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San Francisco Carnaval to honor and celebrate indigenous cultures this year

Bay Area community leader excited to share Mayan culture at Carnaval
Bay Area community leader excited to share Mayan culture at Carnaval 03:11

As Carnaval 2024 approaches, the Mission district community is celebrating this year's theme "Honoring Your Indigenous Roots."

And for one local leader, who is preparing her festival float with passion, every rose is a deep symbol of love for her Mayan culture. 

"Bashka Walee: It means, 'Como estas, how are you,'" Lydia Candila Chan, said in the ancient Mayan language. 

The professor of Mayan and Mexican heritage is the founder of the Mayan Association, where she supports community members new to the Bay Area. Chan not only teaches the ancient Mayan language — but she is working hard to keep it alive. 

"I want to preserve the culture, everything related to our community," Chan said.

And she has been committed to that vision from her days in Yucatan to the ones spent in the Mission district. Through financial support from other like-minded nonprofits, Chan helps immigrants of Mayan heritage acclimate to the Bay Area. 

That's why this year's Carnaval is so significant to her and her community. 

"This Carnaval means a lot to them because some of them cannot leave the country, and that's why we are bringing the music for them to listen and to be happy," Chan said.

But it's not just a chance to enjoy her culture, it's also a chance to share it. 

Gabriela Uluac, a recent migrant of Mayan heritage, is looking forward to sharing the uniquely Mayan food from her community. 

As Chan prepares distinctly Mayan decor for the float, imported from Yucatan, she said the music and dance will bring forth a familiar joy for her community. 

"I want them to feel like, at home," Chan said.

And home is what they will be sharing, at the festival. The two-day event takes place this Saturday and Sunday.

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