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Traditions and Legends
Ornoya OrJagua prepares to honor his hero, the winner of the fierce and fearsome chief of Lucayas, Ornocoy. Ornoya´s name is pronounced by everybody: it is proudly pronounced by the elder, with admiration by young warriors, children pronounce it with joy, mothers show gratitude and daughters pronounce it with love. The old siboney chief wants to reward the intrepid leader the way he deserves it.
In the extensive batey, surrounded by leafy ceiba trees, swaying palms and slender reeds-bravas, people hummed waiting for the great ceremony that would honor the hero. The cansi, or mansion of the cacique, facing the batey, was adorned with cotton blankets and multiple colors, forming a wide side canopy, under which sitting on a wrought duced, was the siboney cacique, surrounded by the main behique the most notable elders and other members of his court.
From the distance the conch sounded and distant voices were singing war hymns. The crowd retreated leaving part of the batey free, then in one of its ends appeared four young natives blowing from time to time their grunt and thunderous snails.
They followed the warriors, and Ornoya came with his bright feathers and a rich cloak studded with thin shells covering his back, in his neck there were thick and pearly beads of a collar and gold anklet on his wrists. Behind him walk downcast, hands tied behind his back, low eyes, sullen eyes, the six vanquished caciques of which the croud mocked at. The parade was closed by a large group of siboney warriors singing songs of war and armed with spears, arrows and larga bows pending on their waist.
When Ornoya passed, he was greeted with cheers and leaves and flowers are cast to his feet. Mothers raise their children so that they can see better the hero and maidens smile at him. When he arrived by the cacique, Ornoya tried to prostrating, but the cacique prevented him from doing so, by saying to him:
- The son of Huoion should not kneel before any mortal. Your father sent you to both save the inhabitants of Jagua from invasions and looting of the fiercest Lucayans. You complied as a good one. You took your brothers to victory and you beat the daring and feared cacique Orconoy who will no longer bear terror and despair to our lands. The village of Jagua greets you and honor its savior, and your deeds will be passed from generation to generation, perpetuated by the legend, will reach the ages to come, leaving your name immortalized on earth, as an example for those who defend security home and the freedom and independence of our homeland.
After saying this, he took off his necklace and put it to Ornoya, while he made the gift of his massive mace. The young warrior sat next to the old chief, and gave first popular festivals. A batos game started, led by the tequina or boss. The two sides, made one of boys and another of maidens, aligned face to face, as a sign of tequina the ball was thrown into the air, being returned from group to group, taking care of the players to catch it in the air, before or after it bounced on the ground. The side that could not return it, lost a point. After that, there were dances and songs accompanied by drums, built of hollow wood, whistles made of vines and "guamos", or holed large snails.
Samba, director of singing, intoned the first verse of a romance, of rhythmic and monotonous music, then repeated by the chorus. First danced the maidens, who displayed all their grace and seduction to honor Ornoya, then the men and, finally, all of them.
The last act of the party, consisted of mock warriors. There were two sides, each with its leader, placed face to face and after a signal from the chief, they simulated being undertaken with spears and maces, moving with rapid movements to strike and to avoid being hit.
The sun gave off its last rays from the neighboring mountains, where popular festivities ended, and as the invincible warrior was honored by all the people from Jagua, gathered in the broad batey, shouting clamorous for a long time: Ornoya! Ornoya! Ornoya! And the echo repeated the word as to perpetuate the glorious name, for he was to be remembered in times and by other races.
(Taken from the book: "Traditions and legends of Cienfuegos" by Adrian del Valle, 1919)