The Oruro Carnival is a popular celebration held each year in the city in Bolivia in Oruro in honor of the Virgin of the Tunnel, and one of the biggest demonstrations of folk arts and traditional Andean culture.
The year 2001 the UNESCO declared the carnival as “Obra Maestra del Patrimonio Oral e Intangible de la Humanidad” (“Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”)
Los guloyas dirigidos por Daniel (Linda) Henderson (primero de derecha a izquierda). AP/Ramón Espinosa
Oruro’s Carnaval has become Bolivia’s most renowned and largest annual celebration.
It’s great time to visit, when this somewaht unfashionable mining city becomes the focus of the nation’s attention.
In a broad sense, these festivities can be described as re-enactments of the triumph of good over evil, but the festival is so interlaced with threads of both Christian and indigenous myths, fables, deities an traditions that it would be inaccurate to oversimplify it in this way.
The origins of a similar festival may be traced back to the medieval kingdom of Aragon, these days part of Spain, although oruereños (Oruro locals) maintain that it commemorates an event that occurred during the early days of their own fair city.
Legend has it that one night a thief called Chiru-Chiru was seriously wounded by a traveler he’d attempted to rob.
Taking pity on the wrongdoer, the Virgin of Candelaria gently helped him reach his home near the mine at base of Cerro Pie del Gallo and succored him until he died.
When the miners found him there, an image of the Virgin hung over his head.
Today, the mine is known as the Socavon de la Virgen (Grotto of the Virgin), and a large church, the Santuario de la Virgen del Socavon, has been built over it to house the Virgin.
The Virgen del Socavon, as she is also now known, is the city’s patron.
This legend has been combined with the ancient Uru tale of Huari and the struggle of Archangel Michael (san Miguel) against the seven deadly sins into the spectacle that is presented during the Oruro Carnaval.