By Yolanda Salazar
Oruro, Bolivia, Feb 26 (EFE).- Revelers dancing to the rat-a-tat-tats of drums punctuated with the sound of cymbals twirled their way to the Virgin of the Socavón to kick off Bolivia’s main Oruro carnival after a yearlong suspension due to Covid-19.
The folk dancers performed traditional morenada and diablada after months of preparation for the pulsating street festival that has revelers clad in colorful costumes, wearing layers of makeup and dazzling masks.
However, in some cases, dancers wore transparent chinstraps to prevent the spread of coronavirus that fogged their made-up looks for the day.
The colorfully dressed musicians beat drums and cymbals as revelers danced the 3-km route to reach the sanctuary of the patron saint of Oruro in the Andes.
Before beginning to exhibit their best steps and repeatedly rehearsed choreography for the carnival, the dancers flashed their vaccination certificates to allow them to participate in the parade.
Unesco declared the carnival as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” in 2001. It is also regarded as one of the most striking festivals in South America since it displaces a panoply of popular arts expressed in masks, textiles, and embroidery.
Juan Velásquez, who has been dancing morenada for years, told EFE that people were generally happy after performing the ritualists for the patron “who always takes care of us.”
Visitors watched from the stands.
“I was excited to dance again for the Virgin to seek her blessing for all families around the world,” Inés, who dances awatiris, told EFE.
As drums, cymbals and trumpets sounded their beats, dancers put on their masks and fixed their colorful hats to dance for the Virgen del Socavón.
Inés and her group wore a black crepe on their dresses to mourn Covid-19 deaths.
Near the end of the tour, the devout dancers knelt and took off their hats and masks to enter the Socavón sanctuary and pray to the virgin.
The visitors, mostly from other Bolivian regions, enjoyed the carnival from the classic grandstands installed on the sidewalks of the streets and avenues that the dancers traverse.
Initially, people respected biosecurity measures like the use of a mask and sanitizers, but as time passed, they removed their face covers to sing and drink.
The celebrations will last until Tuesday and will take place in other regions of Bolivia that have authorized carnivals.
Bolivia is experiencing the de-escalation of the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections. The government has asked people to abide by bio-security measures.
The country has accumulated 893,048 infections and 21,419 deaths since the first cases in March 2020. EFE