Festivities in Bolivar
The festivities can extend up to 15 days some years and include fire pits, dances, costumes and a lot of drinking to “honor” the Saint.
Not very far from Guaranda, just about 5 kilometers from the center of the city, you arrive at a small town called Guanujo. This town is another reason to start living in Ecuador, and an experience we at Montecristi Golf Club recommend.
The name has been linked to three possible explanations. The first says that the soils are so fertile (it is) that it only could have been achieved using fertilizer. The Kichwa word for fertilizer is “guano” so, hence the name of the place.
The second theory says that exiled Indians (mitimae) from Peru were brought over to this place by the Inca Huayna Capac. They were known as Huanuco and they lost the accent and were since named guanujos.
Be as it may, and wherever the name comes from, Guanujo is a small, white house lined, quaint town with a very fertile soil. It has the traditional Spanish distribution with a central square surrounded by the church and administrative buildings.
It is here, that the 29th of June every year, you can attend the traditional celebration of Saint Peter, Patron Saint of Guanujo, Guaranda, and Echandía.
For this occasion, the traditional black and flowery topped with a black crown garb that the Saint Peter statue wears all year long is replaced with a golden tunic and golden crown. He is seated in a red chair and his feet rest on a golden pillow.
He is transported to the host neighborhood where he rests all day of the celebration. Depending on the amount of money collected by the hosts, there will be a variety of popular games, such as the traditional greased log, small piñatas called enchanted pots, and other activities the likes of bull fighting and dances all over the city.
In the afternoon, there is the traditional procession of the statue and the «chamiza». This consists in «sweeping» the whole town with dry leaves that are collected in a single spot where they are burned in a big pyre. This tradition is repeated throughout the country in the Andes, in many small villages, and it is considered to be a remnant of traditional medicine where various herbs and plants are burned to heal the “bad air” or “bad eye” that the patient suffers.
The festivities are a mixture of traditional Indian and Spanish elements as is the case with most festivities around the globe where Spanish conquerors created a blend of traditions in order to evangelize the locals easier.
After the big festival is over, Saint Peter is finally returned to the church where he will bless the community and the crops for another year and the process of securing funds and designating the next host neighborhood starts again.
All and all a great tourist experience.
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