Oruro Carnival lasts for 10 days each year before Lent in the
Andes mountains of western Bolivia. Featuring music, dance and
crafts, it is highlighted by a ceremonial parade lasting 20 hours,
covering 4 kilometres and involving 20,000 dancers and 10,000
musicians. The carnival reinforces the cultural identity of the
community, and attracts more than 400,000 people.
carnival has its origins in the great festival of Ito celebrated
by the Uru people since pre-Colombian times. The Spanish forbade
the Uru rituals in the 17th century, but they continued disguised
as Catholic liturgy. Andean gods
were integrated into Christian
images, the Andean divinities were
worshipped as Catholic saints. Aspects
of the festival of the Ito have been appropriated and continue to
be expressed through a Christian ritual celebrated at Candelmas (February
decline of mining and traditional agriculture, deforestation and
migration threatens the culture of Oruro. Urbanization, an
increasing generation gap and financial exploitation of the
cultural heritage are other factors.
A law protecting the national heritage and an intellectual
property code covering traditional and popular culture are planned.
A carnival museum is envisaged, along with festivals celebrating
masks and costumes, and the winter solstice. A Carnival of
Carnivals will bring together examples of carnivals from