Read the science behind the photographs

Mayan religion today is characterized by a combination of traditional, Pre-Columbian beliefs and practices combined with Catholicism and, more recently, Evangelical Protestantism. Traditionally, the Maya worshiped a pantheon of gods associated with the sun, rain, corn and other features of nature, their food, and way of life.

The ancient Maya were ruled by a priestly class with both religious and secular power. The classic Maya were devoted to astronomy, astrology, mathematics, the keeping of sacred bees, writing books, producing artwork and other crafts, and the building of elaborate temples.

Modern Maya religion is a colourful blend of the past and present. The ancient gods have been replaced with statues of santos who superficially resemble Catholic saints, but have special meaning to the Maya. Each town has a patron saint or a Virgin who are honored in festivals, which include processions of the gremios (guilds) of artisans (carpenters, tailors, and so on) or workers (taxi drivers), women and young people. During festivals there are bullfights in the afternoon and balls in the evening.