Arts & Entertainment

Bolivia marks return of UN-acclaimed festival

By Gina Baldivieso

La Paz, Jun 11 (EFE).- The festival of the Most Holy Trinity of the Lord Jesus of the Great Power got under way here Saturday more than two years after the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated the event as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

UNESCO added the Bolivian celebration to its Representative List at the end of 2019, shortly before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced the cancelation of the festival in 2020 and 2021.

At 7:00 am sharp, the procession of some 60,000 dancers belonging to 76 troupes set out from La Paz’s Garita de Lima neighborhood for the journey of 8 km (5 mi) to Central Urban Park in the heart of the city.

Well before dawn, the nearby streets filled with merchants selling accessories to the participants and makeshift beauty salons to attend to the dancers’ hair and makeup.

Leading the parade was a group of “amautas,” as the indigenous Aymara people call their wise men, who conducted a ritual of thanksgiving to Pachamama (Mother Earth) at the gates of the Church of Jesus del Gran Poder.

Next was a contingent of dignitaries led by La Paz Mayor Ivan Arias, who told Efe that planning for the renewal of the festival began last year.

The occasion is celebrated with “gratitude to God that we are alive, gratitude to God for allowing us to dance and to thanks him, and here we are rendering that tribute to all who have died (in the pandemic) as well,” he said.

All of the dancers and musicians had to produce proof of vaccination, the mayor said.

“We deserve this festival, we have prepared,” Arias said, noting that the celebration injects as much as $120 million into the local economy.

The observance, which began early in the 20th century among indigenous people in La Paz, had become a major annual event by the 1940s. EFE gb/dr

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