Bolivia: Festival of miniatures begins with rites to the Ekeko

LA PAZ, Bolivia (HPD) β€” With alcohol, beer and colored paper poured over a figure of Ekeko, the god of abundance, Bolivians kicked off the Alasita, or miniatures festival, in La Paz on Tuesday.

β€œHe helps us get a little more work, he helps us have a little more strength,” Ruth Gonzales, a 37-year-old nurse, told The Associated Press. Gonzales assured that she also lights a cigarette and then puts it in her mouth so that Ekeko fulfills her dreams.

According to tradition, the Ekeko -represented by a short, plump man- carries goods and food and fulfills wishes on January 24, so people buy miniature objects to ask him to make them come true.

Several people gathered at a statue of Ekeko, lit a cigarette and poured alcohol and beer into it so that this year it gives them work to overcome the crisis left by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Milton Oyonaga, a heavy load transporter, attends the celebration every year so that Ekeko fulfills his dream of “money, prosperity for all the families of all Bolivians.” In his hands was a figure of the deity and many small bills.

This year the festivity included among its novelties dozens of replicas of the Soccer World Cup that Argentina won in its last edition. In the neighboring city of El Alto, replicas of the cup turned into piggy banks were sold.

The celebration has its origin in ancient beliefs of Andean pre-Hispanic peoples and has managed to overcome time and even the veto of the Catholic Church, which during colonial times tried to banish the cult considering it atheist, according to anthropologists. Ekeko himself has been transformed over the years.

Alasita is an Aymara word that means “buy me.” The fair, of indigenous origin, usually brings together more than 5,000 merchants as well as thousands of Aymara artisans, believers and sorcerers. The fair extends for almost a month in the center of La Paz.

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