Feast Day of the Exaltation of the Cross
From: Thursday, September 13 2007, 7:00 pm
to: Friday, September 14 2007, 6:59 pm
Oruro, home to Bolivia's Devil Carnival and the centre of the mining communities of the Altiplano, holds some of the more eye-opening Amerindian-Christian ceremonies linked to Christian feast days.
One in particular is the Changing of the Clothes ceremony, which forms part of the Exaltation of the Cross celebrations. Clergy and military, joined by a wealth of local bands, make up the parades. Do not miss the devil dancers, also visible at carnival, who unveil some of the treats of the Oruro Carnival in the form of their comparsas, or costumed dances. On the feast day they enact a dramatic biblical pageant involving angels too.
The devil is a recognised symbol in local culture and is a preferred god amongst the mining communities of Bolivia. Since the miners spend their working lives underground they go by the reasoning that their patron must come from below as well. It is not uncommon for miners to make offerings of llama, aguadiente, cigarettes and coca leaves to beseech their future safety and well-being in the treacherous conditions of this very underworld. Take a visit to the mines and you can see the Devil, or at least a horned effigy in all its splendour.