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Voladores ritual is flight for survival for Mexico's Totonacas

11 October 2013 Last updated at 00:13 BST

When Spanish conquistadors landed on Mexico's east coast in 1519, the Totonacas were the first people they encountered. Catholicism was imposed, and the Totonacas joined a coalition of indigenous warriors challenging Aztec rule.

Today there are around 250,000 Totonaca speakers in Mexico, and the community strives to preserve its language and cultural heritage.

A powerful symbol of Totonaca folk culture is the Dance of the Flier - La Danza del Volador in Spanish. The ceremony involves four men hanging upside-down on ropes from high poles, spinning down to the sounds of a flute and drum played by the caporal, a fifth man who performs on a small platform at the top. They represent earth, wind, fire and water, flying around the sun in a prayer for happiness and fertility.

Frederick Bernas and Amado Trevino visited Papantla de Olarte in the Mexican state of Veracruz to see the flying dancers in action.

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