Let’s Learn More about the Rich Cultural Diversity of Bolivia (Part Three)

This is a continuation of our blog on the cultural diversity of Bolivia. Haven’t read the first part yet? You can check it here. Enjoy the reading! Chewing Coca Leaves Chewing coca leaves is a

This is a continuation of our blog on the cultural diversity of Bolivia. Haven’t read the first part yet? You can check it here.

Enjoy the reading!

Chewing Coca Leaves

Chewing coca leaves is a custom that originated in the pre-Columbian cultures of Bolivia, where coca is believed to have healing powers. Chewing the plant is believed to reduce dizziness and nausea, ease muscle pain, prevent joint discomfort and reduce anxiety levels.

Not all Bolivian cities adhere to this practice, but it is fairly widespread throughout the country. As far as the coca leaf is concerned, there are many stigmas, as it is the raw material for the manufacture of cocaine. However, Bolivia allows the chewing in its territory, according to a law that commemorates the new adhesion of Bolivia to the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotics of 1961.

Thus, the coca leaf is part of Bolivia’s cultural heritage. In addition, the country promotes its recovery, production and sale.

Urkupiña Festival

In August, the festivities of the Virgin of Urkupiña, the most recognized Catholic figure in the city of Quillacollo, take place. Like other traditions in this country, this festival is a fusion between Catholicism and the rites of the ancestral cultures of Bolivia.

This exceptional festival takes place at the end of July and beginning of August and gathers more than a million parishioners, nationals and foreigners. It begins with the Fastuosa Entrada Folklórica on August 14, a parade of about ten thousand costumed dancers, followed by a mass and procession, a pilgrimage and offerings to the Pachamama (Mother Earth).

Tinkus Festival

In fifth place is the Tinkus festival, a pre-Inca ritual and folkloric dance of the Bolivian culture. It is a melee fight stimulated by alcohol, in which the Warakaku and Makhanaku participate, people who have been trained for this fight since their childhood.

The objective of this festival, which takes place in May, is to shed blood as an offering to the Pachamama. This event is generally very violent, so it is not recommended for people who are sensitive to this type of spectacle to attend. Despite the fact that the fight is arbitrated by the Jilanko and the Mayor, it usually ends with the participants badly beaten.

Carnival of Oruro

Along with the most important carnivals in the world such as the one in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and other carnivals in the world, the Oruro carnival is one of the most acclaimed and one of the main reasons why so many tourists come to the country at this time of year. In addition, this folklore festival is designated as a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO.

The carnival of Oruro is very colorful and joyful. It is organized in honor of the patron saint of the city, the Virgen del Socavón. Also, 48 folkloric groups participate, divided into 18 dance specialties. It is a good way to see all the manifestations of Bolivian culture up close!

The Day of the Dead in Bolivia

As in the culture of Mexico, in Bolivia the Day of the Dead is commemorated in November. This is a tradition that is believed to have been inherited from the Spaniards. The purpose of this commemoration of all the faithful dead is to pray for the faithful who have ended their earthly life.

It is common to bring flowers and wreaths to the cemetery. Food is also very important. It is customary to offer bread in the form of the deceased or animals such as doves and llamas. Many of these offerings made of bread and sweet dough are placed in a room, along with other preparations that were enjoyed by the deceased. In addition, it is customary to light candles for the soul.

Here you are! You now know everything about the Bolivian culture. Do you want to visit this charming country and experience its culture for yourself? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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