Mexico: The Aztec Nation
When the Aztec reached Mexico City to live in the 13th century, they could hardly conceive what a beautiful land and livelihood they were getting here!
The Olmecs, Toltecs and Teotihuacan people were reigned the nation and from Tenochtitlan came these Aztec people. They were defeated many times and yet settled down and became a part of Mexico. What actually made that easy for them to be ‘Mexicas’ and to adjust and absorb the culture and to cultivate or inject their life style is they never tried to kill or ruin the native culture, rather they adopted and loved it. Unlike the British emperors or Spanish conquistadors who conquered to destroy, Aztec loved the society as a whole and contributed to its richness.
If you visit Mexico, you will discover so many overwhelming traditions and perceptions, that your philosophy of life will change. Just imagine a nation who carries the legacy of the pre-historic heritage and is also blooming in the new economic sphere, a nation praying in a Catholic Church wearing the Penacho of Moctezuma on the head, a nation believing in witches and ghosts and so becoming the largest automotive parts exporter to the US. They sing Mariachi and dance Jarabe Tapatio on the streets at the City Center to amuse the tourists and they offer blessings with sacred water and purify your soul, protecting your from the evil eye. They will serve you tequila, make the best cocktails in the world. They have accepted the modern life without forgetting the rich Mayan, Inka and Aztec. And thus you find a new Mexico, full of life.
The people are extremely friendly and welcoming, and this is nothing new. If you read the history how the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes was welcomed by the Aztec King Moctezuma II with precious gems, gold, feather-made headdresses and plenty of foods and grains. He was treated by the native Aztec as their long-lost god Quetzalcoatl, who left the country in between 900 to 1500 AD. He is one of the most interesting mythical gods who left Mexico or banished from Mexico and promised to return. So, the Aztec thought Cortes might be that god who appeared for their salvation. They did not imagine in their wildest thoughts that this very man would kill millions of them and establish a new civilization here! There is a continuous debate on the topic whether the Spaniards were a blessing to Mexico as they abolish cannibalism and established Christianism. The Mexicans are proud of their ancestors no matter that they used to sacrifice human beings to their god, but they also do not deny the modernism that the Spaniards brought with them. But, yes, they regret destruction of the pyramids and yet accept the churches made with those volcanic stones.
Once you start believing in the unexplainable mystery of Mayan, the indescribable taste of tequila, the unbelievable vastness of the nature- only then Mexico is yours
There is always a common tendency to project a nation according to the national interest to the world via media. A political game. A theory which can be called a conspiracy theory. Mexico is also victimised by this game, a big game. We Asian people see Mexico as a country of drugs, mafia, weapons, trafficking and illegal migration as presented in movies, dramas, Netflix, documentaries etc. But, once you land in the country, once you sit in a restaurant, once you walk at the city centre, once you speak to a Mexican, once you see the beauty blended with aesthetic sense of art, once you listen to mariachi and dance with the beautiful women- you will understand ‘life is here’. Your heart and soul will speak to each other in an asymmetric way. Your body will appreciate your existence, your head will rise like the Aztec King and soul will be purified. The Day of Death or Dia De Los Muertos will teach you how to embrace death, the festival of Monarch Butterflies will teach you how to connect with the dead, the pre-Hispanic artistic philosophy will soothe your belief and your mortality.
Seeing is believing! And once you start believing in the unexplainable mystery of Mayan, the indescribable taste of tequila, the unbelievable vastness of the nature- only then Mexico is yours. The land is yours. The people are yours.
* Shahnaj Ranu is Counsellor, Bangladesh Embassy, Mexico City