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Cozumel equinox
Cleaning the spirit.
  Hundreds of people gathered at San Gervasio ruins in Cozumel on Wednesday, to celebrate the Vernal (Spring) Equinox.

This significant date - when the length of day is exactly equal to night - is of historic religious importance to the Mayans and other American cultures.

The rituals were presided over by internationally renowned Mexican shaman, Heliodoro Benavides, who came to the island especially for the event.

The dancing and chanting ceremonies are believed to clean and strengthen the spirit.

They were used to ask Mother Earth to protect the people of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo in the year ahead.
Cozumel Ixchel Pyramid
Dancing at the Pyramid of Ixchel.

The event took place in front of the Pyramid of Ixchel - the temple of the Mayan Goddess of the Moon and Fertility, seen by many as the local embodiment of Mother Earth or pachamama.

The ceremonies saw an interesting mixture of ancient Mexica and Mayan traditions, as well as more modern Catholic influences.

The Spring Equinox is also celebrated at Chichen Itza Mayan ruins on the mainland, where the alignment of the sun causes a shadow in the form of a serpent to appear on the steps of the main pyramid.

See our exclusive Spring Equinox 2007 photo gallery or read more about San Gervasio.