OTXOMAYOAK: Entradillak


8 May is an eventful day in Orduña. The feast is popularly known as ochomayos. It is celebrated both in Orduña and the Arrastaria Valley.

Locals commemorate the renewal of the vows made to the Virgin. The tradition dates back to the eighteenth century, when the authorities at the time made a promise to name Our Lady of Antigua their patron saint.

On 9 May all attention moves to the Arrastaria Valley. The valley belongs now to the municipality of Amurrio in the province of Álava. It comprises the councils of Tertanga, Délica, Artomaña and Aloria.

The following Sunday it is the turn of the people from Saratxo to celebrate. The village of Saratxo is close to Amurrio. Our Lady of Antigua is also the patron saint of this village and the feast is held on the Sunday after 8 May.

Representatives from the four councils of the valley meet at the entrance to the town of Orduña, near the hermitage of Our Lady of Good Success. The txistu player welcomes them and together they march in procession to the sanctuary. They bear the banner of the councils and the cross of the parish churches they represent. Children carry candles to offer to the Virgin. Municipal officials and villagers follow them.

The church is bursting with people. A traditional jota dedicated to the Virgin completes the ceremony. The ringing of the bells announces the end of the service. The image of the Virgin on the altar is then turned and one by one the attendants approach, kiss her stole and make their offering.

The Entradillas dances are later performed outside the sanctuary. Formerly the dances used to be more spontaneous and joyful. Dancers from the valley would step out and dance amidst cheers and cries of encouragement: “Cheers for the people of Délica”, “Hooray for Tertanga”, “Hurrah for Aloria”… Nowadays the exhibition is organised by local dance groups. The older members of the crowd throw coins in gratitude, which the young dancers compete to catch. Town authorities finally present them with a commemorative plaque.

The party returns in procession into town. On arrival the mayor of Orduña meets them and they proceed to the exchange of the batons of command. The representative of the people of Arrastaria assumes authority until batons change hands again. They head for the inn, and following the customary speeches, they enjoy a brotherhood meal. At the end of the day batons of command are exchanged and the representatives bid each other farewell.