Feria de las Alasitas

An unusual and complicated tradition in La Paz each 24 Jan. It is a celebration honouring the Aymara god Ekeko (the god of abundance).

People buy miniature versions of gifts they would like to give somebody else. Miniatures are blessed and given and it is believed that the recipient will then get the real object in the course of the following year.

“Miniatures” are blessed by the vendor (normally a man but occasionally a woman acting as a shaman), normally by briefly waving the object over a small smouldering fire on the stall.

Miniatures range from cash (or bundles of cash), cars, houses, educational qualifications, food, domestic workers, construction materials, computers, cellphones, etc., etc.. There are “special” objects representing less tangible gifts, for example, to give somebody general good luck you buy a miniature elephant.

The recipient of a gift should then keep the gift at home wrapped in a special cloth.

Whilst the event takes place only in La Paz, people will travel to La Paz from other cities in Bolivia to buy and have gifts blessed.

Although the event honours the Aymara god Ekeko, the Catholic Church has also got involved and on midday on 24 Jan it also joins in blessing the miniatures at the main cathedral.

For other South American posts see South America Map.

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