The communities of Píllaro in the Andean center of Ecuador celebrate between the 1st and 6th of January a Festival called Diablada. This Festival has become one of the main attractions when looking for indigenous culture.
The Festival, which is considered Cultural Heritage since 2008, consists of parades and dancers dressed as devils. The preparations for the Festival begin months in advance since all the dancers have to coordinate their movements and the order in which everyone will appear following the different communities that will participate. The colorfulness of the Diablada comes from the different characters that participate which include: devils, huarichas, capariches, couples of the line, musicians, and ringleaders.
The rural sector of Ecuador has managed to maintain their indigenous traditions while mixing them with the religious feasts that were brought by the Spaniards in the colonialization.
Píllaro, in particular, has been a community that has experienced indigenous uprisings that led to the destruction of most of its historical archives. Therefore, there are no records of when this Diablada Festival started, what we can be certain is that it is not a Devil Worship ritual, in fact, it was a way of protest against Spanish oppression, at the time of the colony when the indigenous people had only one day a year to rest.
Mainly the popular belief told around in these communities is that the sky opens in the new year (coincidentally with the Holy Innocents Feast) so the ritual is performed in order to achieve better levels of understanding, resistance, and mental health. The communities believe that this will assure them strength and supernatural powers, because for one day they disguise themselves as the one they fear the most, so they dance to mock themselves, thinking this will give them control over the evil one.
The Diablada Festival nowadays
The festival now has grown beyond the local communities, and because there is no prohibition or requisite for anyone to disguise themselves as a devil, old people, children, women, and foreigners are part of it. However, beware that the popular beliefs say that once you decide to be a devil in the Diablada, you must be for seven consecutive times to avoid strange thing from happening to you.
For the six days that the Festival lasts the village bands will escort the dancing characters around the streets of the town, where they throw proclamations to their community and its visitors.
Experience a new way of starting a New Year, and plan your visit to the Diablada!
Keywords: Diablada, Pillaro, New Year, indigenous festival, retirement.
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