By John D. Early
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At each level, an individual usually occupies an office for one year in the ceremonial center, then returns to his cornfield or other occupation and may assume a higher office in a future year. 2 The two highest levels of the system are the two alcaldes and four regidores, divided into pairs by the designation of older and younger brother. These two groups together are known as the moletik, the acting elders of the community. They are in charge of community ritual and the cargo system. They are assisted by two scribes who know how to read and write in Spanish.
The town held meetings to plan the festival of the town’s patron saint. Although supposedly preparatory, these meetings tended to turn into festive occasions accompanied by the heavy drinking characteristic of many festivals. A drunken group decided to continue the meetings and attempted to obtain more liquor from a ladino merchant but were refused. The crowd killed him in a rage. The next morning the visiting Catholic priest arrived. As he was celebrating mass, the intoxicated crowd jammed into the church intending to kill him.
The moletik have collected money from the people to pay for the festival, gone to San Cristóbal to invite the priest to Zinacantán for the mass, and paid the customary stipend for his services. For the Maya the important features of the mass are the priest wearing the colorful vestments, using lit candles, and offering bread and wine while reciting the necessary prayers from a large book, the missal, in the home of the saints. The writer recalls a festival Mayan Festivals for the Saints / 39 when the priest did not appear when he was supposed to.