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Meet La Majestad

Festival participants posing on the stage at the opening of the festival. The men are called the manitos, their clothing called montunas. The women feature polleras of a specific style called a pollera montuna. It stems from the style of female peasant working clothes, though I'm still unsure about the degree to which in particular the top has been embellished.

Since Thursday, the town of Ocú has been in festival mood, and the party went on through today Sunday. We're a bunch of happy but tired, muddy and sweaty anthropologists, sitting at the hotel Sunday evening listening to the music coming in from town. The festival officially closed, but a ball with accordion music is still going on. When we left town half an hour ago, the atmosphere had switched towards more drunk people in the streets and increasing amounts of trash and mud. Not much different than festivals and large gatherings elsewhere, and Ocú will be back to its usual clean and neat self in a day or two.

Crowning of the Queen

The queen of the festival after being crowned. Note the style of her pollera: it is not a working pollera as above, but a luxury pollera that was, and still is, used for special occasions such as weddings.

Thursday night the queen, referred to as her majesty or la majestad, was crowned as a marking of the opening of the festival. She is accompanied by seven other so-called princesses: they each represent their district in the Ocú region. There is no comparable role for young males, though as you can see below, they participate in the dances with the princesses. The main role of the queen is to dance, pose, and assist in giving out awards during the festival. During the year, she will also assist in promotion and outreach. Queens and princesses also play roles in other celebrations in Panama, including carnival. It is a gendered role, though our study does not provide further insight into this other than through observations and second-hand accounts from others involved in the festival: Some of these girls are minors and as such, permissions for interviewing and working with these girls would be more difficult to achieve. The topic of queens and princesses is not a focus of our study, so we did no go through the extra approval processes, but enjoyed the spectacle of their clothing and their dance as you can see below.

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