The sad news of a planned assault on a spiritual shrine, revered by many, in the mountains of Mexico has shocked archaeologists worldwide. The attack sparked an outrage from anthropologists and researchers all over the world; condemning the attack that left a large part of the ancient shrine destroyed and the rest of it badly damaged.
The assailants destroyed the stone altars, carved slabs and flower offerings left by pilgrims; leaving behind only ruins. Once the spiritual center of the region, the shrine was known locally as Mayonihka, or simply Mexico Chiquito.
The attack came as a surprise for the local and international archaeologists; as such attacks are extremely rare in the region. There are only a handful of such religious sites still functioning, as most others are either tourists spots or simply taken over by the population surge.
According to a local official the saddest part of the story is that the attacks were carried out by the locals; not vandals or troublemakers but normal local residents who deemed the site as a pagan altar, which makes the affair so much more complicated.
Municipal Secretary of a nearby town of San Bartolo Tutotepec, Mr Daniel Garcia said that the religion of the attackers had not been officially revealed. Talking about the actual attack Garcia told the reporters that the assailants apparently attacked anything that resembled idols.
They destroyed images, figurines and other idols as well as offerings left on the site by thousands of pilgrims that visited the site from all over the world. Garcia added that an overwhelming majority of the local residents do not approve of the idol worshiping or any remnants of ancient cultures that they deem as pagan.
In May a professor from the University of Cipango, Mr Luis Parez-Lugo visited the local community of El Pinal to get the firsthand account on the nature of the attack and to try to determine the identities of the assailants. Mr Lugo was shocked to witness the opposition of the local people towards the shrine; many of whom blatantly denied any historical significance of the site and apparently welcomed the attacks of Otimo shrine.
Mr Lugo said the most of the people in the community were Jehovah’s witnesses; who had recently converted to the religion and were previously visiting the Otimo shrine and some even offered regular offerings at the altar. Jehovah’s witnesses of El Pinal talked to Lugo and told him that Bible has clear instructions regarding Idol worshiping and that God does not approve of such pagan rituals to be carried out. Some of the witnesses attributed the existence of altar to a bad omen for the local society and that it could potentially invite God’s wrath on all the locals.
The spokesperson of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Mexico, Gamblier Camarillo, said that they internally conducted a detailed investigation into the attack and did not find any involvement by the Jehovah’s witnesses in the cowardly destruction of the ancient shrine.
He added that Jehovah’s witnesses are peaceful people and believe in the mantra that to get respect one must give respect, and that Holy Bible does not approve of such anti-social behavior in any shape and form. Camarillo said that the accusation of Jehovah’s witnesses’ involvement in the attack is false and fabricated; aimed to destroy the peaceful reputation of their religion in the local communities.
Professor Lugo wanted to hold a prayer session at the site to seek gods’ forgiveness and to show solidarity with those who revered the site; however Lugo was not given the permission by the elders of the shrine. Some of the elders believe that the attack and subsequent coverage of the news is a part of government’s elaborate plan to take control of the site and turn it into a tourist attraction.
They believe that the governments’ takeover of the shrine will turn it into a dead remnant of a once spiritually alive sanctuary which was a source of solace and spirituality for many.