‘Big-ass cows’ and bulls open one of Nicaragua’s biggest parties

By Wilder Perez R.

Managua, Jul 31 (EFE).- The dance of the vacas culonas – or big-ass cows – and a bullfight raised the curtain in Managua on Sunday of one of the largest parties in Nicaragua, in honor of Santo Domingo de Guzmán.

Dozens of men and boys gathered in the streets of the old eastern neighborhoods of capital to star in the traditional dance of the big-ass cows, named for the attire worn by each participant, which consists of a pair of horns and a skirt that simulates a huge bottom, which they move wildly to music while trying to ram whoever is nearby.

Not far away, others carried out the traditional bullfight, in which dozens of bulls were released, just like the San Fermín festivities in Pamplona, Spain, but with one difference: in Managua the street is closed and there is nowhere to run. The climax came when an enraged bull reached his target – a brave man in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The meeting of the vaca culonas and the bullfight was especially celebrated because for the first time in three years it was with certainty that the next day the image of Santo Domingo de Guzmán would leave church in a pilgrimage, something that had not happened since 2019 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As with other traditional dances of Nicaragua, those participating in the vaca culonas and bullfight did so as a sacrifice, in payment of promises to the revered patron saint for favors received.

They are considered sacrifices because whoever dresses up as a big-ass cow is exposed to the ridicule and laughter of others, and in the case of bullfights, they risk their life.

The tradition of the vaca culonas has existed since the first half of the 20th century, after the earthquake that devastated Managua in 1931. However, they did not meet to dance until 1996.

Bullfights have accompanied the festivities of Santo Domingo de Guzmán since its inception, when the San José neighborhood was on the outskirts of Managua, in 1885.

According to its organizers, the vaca culonas and the bullfight can attract some 3,000 onlookers to the streets of the San José neighborhood, now in the north of Managua, after the expansion of the city.

While the big-ass cows and the bulls livened up the atmosphere, about 10 kilometers to the southeast, on the outskirts of Managua, a group of Catholics prepared the image of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, which every Aug. 1 and 10 moves hundreds of thousands of faithful and others in a pilgrimage. EFE


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