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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: CARNAVAL DE ORURO FROM BOLIVIA!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

CARNAVAL DE ORURO FROM BOLIVIA!!




   The Carnaval de Oruro (or Carnival of Oruro), is the biggest annual cultural event in Bolivia.
   Celebrated in Oruro, the folklore capital of Bolivia, the carnival marks the Ito festival for the Uru people.  Its ceremonies stem from Andean customs, the ancient invocations centering around Pachamama (Mother Earth, transformed into the Virgin Mary due to Christian syncretism) and Tio Supay (Uncle God of the Mountains, transformed into the Devil).  The native Ito ceremonies were stopped in the 17th century by the Spanish, who were ruling the territory of upper Peru at the time.  However, the Uru continued to observe the festival in the form of a Catholic ritual on Candlemas, in the first week of each February.  Christian icons were used to conceal portrayals of Andean gods, and the Christian saints represented other Andean minor divinities.  The ceremony begins 40 days before Easter.






   Legend also has it that in 1789, a mural of the Virgin Mary miraculously appeared in a mineshaft of the richest silver mine in Oruro.  Ever since, the Carnival has been observed in honor of the Virgen de la Candelaria (Virgin of the Candle Mass) or Virgen del Socavon (Virgin of the Mineshaft).  The most important elements of the Carnival now occur in and around the Sanctuaria del Socavon (The Church of the Mineshaft).





   The carnival starts with a ceremony dedicated to the Virgen del Socavon.  Marching bands, compete simultaneously in the grotto of Pie de Gallo on Sunday, which is the greeting to the Virgin.  The highlight of the Carnival is conducted over three days and nights, with 50 groups parading through the city over a route of 4 kilometers.  The groups represent various indigenous dance forms, and are accompanied by several bands.  Over 28,000 dancers and 10,000 musicians participate in the procession that lasts over 20 hours.  The dances include Caporales, Diablada, Kantus, Kullawada, Llamerada, Morenada, Potolo, Pujllay, Suri Sikuris, Tinku, Tobas, Waca Waca and La Diablada (Dance of the devils).  These demonic dancers are dressed in extravagant garb.  The design and creation of Diablada costumes has become an art form in Oruro, and several Diablada clubs, consisting of members from all levels of Oruro society, are sponsored by local businesses.  There are anywhere from 40 to 300 dancing participants, whose costumes may cost several hundreds of dollars each.






   The main event kicks off on Saturday before Ash Wednesday, with the spectacular entrada (entrance procession), led by the brightly costumed San Miguel character.  Behind him, dancing and marching, come the famous devils and a host of bears and condors.  The chief devil, Lucifer, wears the most extravagant costume, complete with a velvet cape and an ornate mask.  Faithfully at his side are two other devils, including Supay, an Andean god of evil that inhabits the hills and mineshafts.  The procession is followed by other dance groups, vehicles adorned with jewels, coins and silverware (in commemorating of the achura rites, in which the Inca offered their treasures to Inti, the sun, in the festival of Inti Raymi, and the miners offer the year's highest quality mineral to El Tio, the demonic character who is owner of all underground minerals and precious metals.  Behind them, follows the Inca characters and a group of conquistador's, including Franciso Pizarro and Diego de Almagro.






   When the devils and the archangel arrive at the soccer stadium, they engage in a series of dances that tell the story of the ultimate battle between good and evil.  After it becomes apparent that good has triumphed over evil, the dancers retire to the Santuario de la Virgen del Socavon at dawn on Sunday, and a mass is held in honor of the Virgin, who pronounces that good has prevailed.






   There's another, less spectacular entrada on Sunday afternoon, and more dance displays on Monday.  The next day, Shrove Tuesday, is marked by family reunions and cha'lla libations, in which alcohol is sprinkled over worldly goods to invoke a blessing.  The next day people make their way into the surrounding countryside where 4 rock formations, the Toad, the Viper, the Condor and the Lizard, are also subjected to cha'lla as an offering to Pachamama.  Plenty of the spirit is sprinkled down the revelers' throats as well.
     Oruro's Carnival has become Bolivia's most renowned and largest annual celebrations.  It's a great time to visit, when this somewhat unfashionable mining city becomes the focus of the nation's attention.  In a broad sense, these festivities can be called re-enactments.  The festival is so interlaced with threads of both Christian and indigenous myths, fables, deities and traditions that it would be inaccurate to oversimplify it in this way.






    Ceremonies begin several weeks before Carnaval Oruro itself, with a solemn pledge of loyalty to the Virgin in the sanctuary.  From this date on, there are various candelite processions and dance groups practice boisterously in the city's streets.

2 comments:

  1. :) that's my beautiful country ♥ I♥Bolivia

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes. It's a very wonderful and exciting country you live in. Thanks for the comment.

    ReplyDelete