By Gina Baldivieso
El Alto, Bolivia, Aug 1 (EFE).- Bolivians on Sunday began the month dedicated to Pachamama, or Mother Earth, with ancestral rituals and offerings to give thanks for the past year and ask for renewed prosperity.
August is the month chosen for the offerings because the first agricultural season in the Andean world concludes and, according to the indigenous communities, at this time of the year Mother Earth “opens her mouth” to feed herself with offerings.
Some offerings are given in homes and businesses, but there are also those who present them at sites considered sacred to indigenous people, such as the Waraco Apacheta, on the outskirts of El Alto, neighboring La Paz.
Dozens of people arrived there at dawn with the intention of giving thanks for what they have received and making new requests to the Andean deities.
Several amautas, or indigenous wise men, waited to perform rituals and prayers in Aymara and Spanish, calling through conch shells and chanting “jallalla” or “long live” in Aymara.
One of the amautas, Mariano Condori, told Efe that August has long been the time the earth “opens its mouth” and it is the right moment to thank her.
“When they do the sowing in the field, the plow is done, the land is broken and the toads appear. That is called ‘marani’ and all of that we worship. ‘Marani’ are those who give fertility to the land and also the blessing to each man or woman who offers a table,”nsaid Condori.
In August, Pachamama receives “with love and will” what is offered to her, so there is an ancient tradition of making these offerings “to give her spirit and courage,” the amauta and spiritual guide Victor Mamani told Efe.
“We are thanking Mother Nature (and we ask her) to keep all these diseases away,” Mamani added.
The main offering ingredients are sweets, and sugar squares with various images in which it is believed that the fate of whoever makes the offering comes forth.
They also include wira k’oa, a sacred medicinal plant that grows in the Andean Plateau, incense, copal or aromatic vegetable resins, and llama fat. Some offerings carry “sullus” or llama fetuses; others include fruit.
On a piece of paper, first the wira k’oa is surrounded by colored wool and then the other offerings are added. When it is assembled, it is blessed with alcohol – wine or beer – and then placed on a pyre.
The offerings must be reduced to ashes and, once cooled, are buried or stored in a box.
Waraco Apacheta is a special place because it has “illa,” or power, and that is why the faithful go there to ask for good health and prosperity, Condori said.
Offerings are also given at the site known as La Cumbre, and the Pajchiri and Lloco Lloco hills in the La Paz Altiplano. EFE