Alasita

28 May, 2015 | Emily Cashen

Culture, Festivals and Indigeneity

PHOTO: MICHAEL DUNN CACERES

What is it you seek? Be it love, money, or even a new car, you are free to pursue your desires at the annual Alasita festival in La Paz. Each January, the chaotic city streets are transformed to an expansive marketplace. The produce on offer? Desires, but in miniature form.

Stalls on the streets are piled high with tiny toy cars, tiny houses, tiny bottles of alcohol and monopoly-sized money. A Yatiri, or traditional Aymaran healer, blessed your chosen miniatures. This blessing will hopefully make your miniature manifest itself as a tangible life-size possession in the coming year.

Presiding over the festival is a jolly and rosy-cheeked  Tiwanakan God of abundance, Ekeko. Clad in traditional Aymaran garb, the Ekeko figurines take centre stage at the festival. After the miniatures have been blessed, they are hung upon the figures as an offering.

Cholitas, school children and business professionals flock in the hundreds to snatch up the tiny objects. This folkloric event is alive at the heart of a rapidly modernising city.


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