the Oruro Carnival
The Oruro Carnival held in the mining town of Oruro in Bolivia is the most significant carnival in the country attracting crowds of tourists. It usually lasts for 10 days and the most fascinating day is on Saturday before Ash Wednesday when dancing devils parade takes place.
The parade of dancing devils is led by San Miguel and El Tio – lord of the underworld. These demonic dancers are dressed in extravagant clothes. The design and creation of Diablada customes has become an art in Oruro.
The procession is followed by other dance groups. Behind are the inca characters and a group of conquistadores, including Francisco 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 over 20 hours of performing along the 4km route, the procession finishes inside the Socavon cathedral which is located in the very center of town. And there all the participants often crawl on their knees in order to honor the town’s patron saint – the Virgin of Socavon. And this is not the end of the party, it is only the beginning. There are 72 more hours left before the end of the carnival.
Then the crowd leaves the cathedral and meets the dawn in the square outside while Las bandas continue playing on the cathedral steps. Gradually the individual bands join together – how it’s organised is impossible to tell – until eventually the jaunty folk groups become one. As the new day begins, everyone relaxes to watch the sunrise with plenty of hot chicha to keep themselves warm. The carnival is one the brightest festivals in Bolivia.
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