Oruro Devil Carnival February 2020: in Bolivia (La Diablada)

Oruro, Bolivia Start Date: 21/02/2020 End Date: 25/02/2020

A Dance With The Devil

Have you ever wanted to dance with the devil?

At the Devil Carnival (held from February the 21st to the 25th ,2020) in the Bolivian town of Oruro, you can dance with more than one.

Oruro Devil Carnival

Oruro Devil Carnival

Yes, really. A full troupe of devils and a few demons besides. So get your dancing shoes on. You’ll need them too, as the Oruro Carnival is just one big dance marathon lasting several days.

Oruro Devil Carnival Dance of the Tobas

Image by: By Pame82s

 

Oruro is a town high up on a plateau in the Bolivian Andes where they live by the rule of work hard, play hard. Once a year the mining town undergoes a metamorphosis which takes it from quiet and laborious to demonically possessed. Yes, it’s Oruro devil carnival time.

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Do they celebrate alone? Not a chance. Around half a million people travel to Oruro to join in what has become one of the most important carnival celebrations outside of Rio de Janeiro.

 

Procession of the Virgin

The mining town of Oruro take their patron saint very seriously. Larger even than Rio’s Christ the Redeemer, a recently installed forty-five metre tall statue of Our Lady of the Mine Shaft looms over the town from her hillside spot almost four thousand metres above sea level.

The mining community have strong beliefs that the Virgen del Socavon. She’s known in Bolivia and throughout South America, safeguards them from accidents and ensures they have sufficient work

The carnival festivities, although they pay homage to the indigenous ancestry of the people with music costumes and traditional dances, are in honour of Our Lady of the Mine Shafts.

While a parade with the statue is physically impossible, an image of the saint is taken from her sanctuary in the church to participate in a parade. Do they do it with quiet reverence?

Well, no, not exactly.

 

Festival de las Bandas

You’ll need either some good earplugs or to be tone deaf to attend this ceremony which initiates the carnival celebrations. It’s a cacophonous serenade from over six thousand musicians.

The image of the Virgin is carried from the church and through the streets of Oruro. It really is ear-splittingly deafening, but a great way to let everyone know the party has started.

 

Dance of the Tobas

While the carnival is in honour of the Virgin, the townsfolk of Oruro are never far from displaying their ethnic roots. Folkloric dancers, in stunning tribal costumes of feathers and jewels, take to the streets to perform complex and ritualistic dance steps.

It’s a style of dance which originated from the Tobas tribe of warriors comprising of lots of high leaps and kicks which you’d need to be seriously energetic and fit to attempt.

 

Bless That Rock

The people of Oruro may be proud of their patron saint, but they’re also still well in touch with Pachamama or the mother earth deity from ancient pagan religions.

Probably as a case of covering all uncertainties, she’s not left out of the Oruro Carnival celebration. Her day is marked with challa libations where small quantities of alcoholic beverages are poured onto the ground before the rest is then imbibed.

A popular spot for doing this is just outside of Oruro where there are several rock formations with animal shapes. Don’t think this a family picnic, it’s not, its more of a boozy outing in the countryside.

 

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Carnival Favourite

Oruro Devil Carnival doesn’t elect a queen, but a favourite and it’s a title which isn’t achieved easily. While there might be a certain amount of parading up and down in high heels and evening wear, it’s not what the carnival favourite is all about.

Each young lady competing for the title represents a different neighbourhood or folklore dance group. Her objective? To woo the crowds, not only with her good looks, but with a folk dance performed in traditional costume.

It’s a raucous gala event where each presentation is accompanied by loud whistles, horn blowing and cheers while showers of multi-coloured paper petals rain down on the contestant.

Is that the grand finale? Of course not.

 

La Diablada

If you’re in Oruro for La Diablada be prepared for a carnival procession the likes of which you’ve never seen before. It’s as if demonic legions have risen from hell through the mining shafts of Oruro and taken over the streets in one long procession of colour and fire.

You’ll see some pretty diverse demons all spitting fire and brimstone from their horned costumes. In the supposed dramatic fight of good against evil, the bad certainly steals the limelight. Does it end with the street procession?

Not a chance. The troupes of devils take over the football stadium and dance a mock battle through the night to the following morning then, when evil has been conquered, all the devils attend a mass in the sanctuary of the Virgin.

Oruro Devil Carnival La Diablada

By Agencia de Noticias ANDES

 

Why The Oruro Devil Carnival?

So you think you can handle a carnival parade that lasts all night long? If you really know how to shake your tail feathers to the rhythm of a tambora and the piping of a sika, then don’t miss the Oruro devil carnival because it really is one long party from start to finish. Vamos, a bailer!

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