Victor Hugo Sosa, mayor of San Pedro Huamelula, a town of Indigenous Chontal people in the Tehuantepec isthmus of Mexico, took as his betrothed a reptile named Alicia Adriana, re-enacting an ancestral ritual.
The reptile is a caiman, an alligator-like marsh dweller endemic to Mexico and Central America.
Sosa swore to be true to what local lore calls “the princess girl”.
“I accept responsibility because we love each other. That is what is important. You can’t have a marriage without love… I yield to marriage with the princess girl,” Sosa said during the ritual.
Marriage between a man and a female caiman has happened here for 230 years to commemorate the day when two Indigenous groups came to peace – with a marriage.
Tradition has it that frictions were overcome when a Chontal king, embodied these days by the mayor, wedded a princess girl of the Huave Indigenous group, represented by the female alligator.
The Huave live along coastal Oaxaca state, not far from this inland town.
The wedding allows the sides to “link with what is the emblem of Mother Earth, asking the all-powerful for rain, the germination of the seed, all those things that are peace and harmony for the Chontal man”, explains Jaime Zarate, chronicler of San Pedro Huamelula.
Before the wedding ceremony, the reptile is taken house to house so that inhabitants can take her in their arms and dance. The alligator wears a green skirt, a colourful hand-embroidered tunic and a headdress of ribbons and sequins.
The creature’s snout is bound shut to avoid any pre-marital mishaps.
Later, she is put in a white bride’s costume and taken to the town hall for the blessed event.
As part of the ritual, Joel Vasquez, a local fisherman, tosses his net and intones the town’s hopes that the marriage may bring “good fishing, so that there is prosperity, equilibrium and ways to live in peace”.
After the wedding, the mayor dances with his bride to the sounds of traditional music.
“We are happy because we celebrate the union of two cultures. People are content,” Sosa told AFP.
As the dance winds down, the king plants a kiss on the snout of the “princess girl”.