The most popular celebration in Chile

This festivity can be understood as a mixture of beliefs, cultures, ideas and colors that at the rhythm of the profane and the divine tangle one with the other wrapping this religious celebration between attires and masks of confusion.

The Tirana village is located in the north of Chile, far from the line that zigzags on the map where we traced our route around the world, but the circumstances brought us to heart of this place. To the heart of a celebration which many had said we couldn´t miss;

The Tirana Festivity

The story says that the origin of La Tirana dates back to 1535,  at the beginning  of the conquest of Chile, when Captain Don Diego de Almagro, coming  from Cuzco, entered the north of the country with five hundred and fifty Spaniards and  over 10,000 Indians. Among them were Paulino Tupac, prince of the imperial family of the Incas, and Huillac Huma, last priest of the disappeared “cult of the Sun”, next to its daughter, the princess Ñusta Huillac.

Among them there were also several”wilcas” infiltrated – captains of the ancient Inca imperial armies – and a handful of “ex-priests”, who masked their plans of revenge with submissive attitudes of obedience.

Surprised as he was  plotting against the Spaniards, the prince was killed. The priest fled soon after, and his daughter Nusta managed to escape from Almagro, taking refuge with a group of warriors in a Tamarugos forest; trees of the desert.

Transforming the tamarugal into an impregnable refuge, Ñusta became the captain of an increasingly large group of natives, with whom she conquered the region. As a princess and priestess, she revived the outlawed cult and made many natives to renegade of their impose faith, executing every Spanish or Christian Indian she could catch. In one of his warlike expeditions, he captured a Portuguese named Vasco de Almeyda, a mining adventurer who was looking for  “La Mina del Sol” (The mine of Sun). The princess was led by a loving inclination towards the prisoner, and kept postponing his execution. In the meantime he took advantage to teach her the Catholic doctrine and, finally, to baptize her. But her warriors, suspicious, had been spying on her for some time. Seeing that their captain denied the Inca religion now, they killed both of them with arrows. Nevertheless, they respected the last will of the princess, placing a cross in her grave.

Years later, the missionary Fray Antonio de Rondón found it, and raised in the same place a hermitage to the Virgin of the Carmen. This stage of the conversion of the original peoples and their evangelization was quite complex, since although the forms of worship fascinated many Indians, the whole process of manipulation was not easy, for it was not only the renaming of a god, but  the change of an ancestral cosmovision to which the native of the continent did not resign and has never renounced in its totality. This lead to the consolidation towards the s. XVIII of what we know as popular Catholicism, so rooted in the Latin American soul.

Today, between July 12 and 17 you can see a spectacle of drums and dances that fill every street of this town that multiplies its population in an overwhelming way, a mandatory celebration that for many begins with a peregrination by foot through the Atacama desert, while others literally load their house on their cars, to find a dusty corner where to stay for a few days.

Devotion is not only a source of wealth for those who create it, but in this case is also for hundreds of street vendors around the town and along the street, offering food, clothing, crafts, books, piles, magic games, kitchen utensils, televisions and thousands of other things.

We could say that this festival is a tendency to combine and harmonize currents of opposites thought and ideas.

Everyone who wishes to attend here should not forget that for this celebration there is a  Dry Law in the streets of La Tirana, no alcohol permitted, although you can always see the man whose face and stability prove he  managed to squeeze a bottle of wine under his arm.


Have you been in La Tirana?

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