LA PAZ, Bolivia ( Associated Press) – With wine, beer and colored paper poured over a figure of Ekeko, god of abundance, Bolivians kicked off the Alcita, or miniatures festival, in La Paz on Tuesday.
“He helps us function a little more, he helps us have a little more strength,” Ruth Gonzales, a 37-year-old nurse, told The Associated Press. Gonzales assures that he also lights a cigarette and then puts it in his mouth so that Ekeko can fulfill her dreams.
According to tradition, Ekeko – who is represented by a short, fat man – carries goods and food and grants wishes on January 24, so people buy miniature objects to ask them to come true.
Many people gathered near Ekeko’s statue, lit cigarettes and poured wine and beer on it to give it the task to address the crisis left by the COVID-19 pandemic this year.
Milton Oyonaga, a heavy goods transporter, participates in the festival every year so that Ekeko can fulfill his dream of “wealth, prosperity for all Bolivian families”. In his hands he took a figure of the deity and several small bills.
This year the festival included among its novelties dozens of replicas of the soccer World Cup that Argentina won in its last edition. In the neighboring town of El Alto, replicas of the cups turned into piggy banks were sold.
The celebration has its origins in the ancient beliefs of Andean pre-Hispanic peoples and has managed to overcome time and even the veto of the Catholic Church, which abolished the cult during the colonial period, considering it atheistic according to anthropologists. Tried to do Ekeko himself has transformed over the years.
Alsita is an Aymara word meaning “buy me.” The fair, of indigenous origin, usually brings together thousands of Aymara artisans, believers and magicians, along with more than 5,000 merchants. The fair lasts for about a month in the center of La Paz.