Why is “Carnaval de Oruro” Celebrated ?

Carnaval de Oruro is one of the most important cultural celebrations in Bolivia, attracting thousands of visitors from around the world each year. This vibrant event is a colorful and lively festival that showcases the rich cultural heritage and traditions of the indigenous communities in the region. In this article, we will explore why Carnaval de Oruro is celebrated and the significance it holds for the Bolivian people.

Origins of Carnaval de Oruro

The origins of Carnaval de Oruro can be traced back to ancient indigenous traditions that revolved around the worship of the Andean deity Viracocha. The festival was later influenced by the arrival of Catholicism in Bolivia and became a blend of indigenous rituals and Christian beliefs.

The festival centers around the Virgen de la Candelaria (Virgin of Candelaria), a religious icon that is believed to protect the miners in the region. The miners, who were the main economic drivers of the area, would seek the blessings and protection of the Virgin before descending into the treacherous mines.

Virgin of Candelaria – Carnival de Oruro

Significance of “Carnaval de Oruro”

Carnaval de Oruro is celebrated to honor the Virgen de la Candelaria and pay tribute to the cultural heritage of the Bolivian people. It is a vibrant and dynamic festival that showcases traditional dances, music, and elaborate costumes.

One of the most iconic aspects of Carnaval de Oruro is the Diablada, a traditional dance that represents the battle between good and evil. Participants dress up as demons, angels, and mythical creatures, each with their unique symbolism. The dance is a powerful representation of the eternal struggle between light and darkness.

The celebration also includes other traditional dances, such as the Morenada, Caporales, and Tinku, each with its distinct cultural significance. These dances tell stories of indigenous traditions, struggles, and triumphs, preserving the cultural heritage of the Bolivian people.

Religious and Cultural Significance

For the Bolivian people, Carnaval de Oruro is both a religious and cultural celebration. It is a time to express devotion and gratitude to the Virgen de la Candelaria, seeking her protection and blessings. The festival is deeply rooted in faith and spirituality, with pilgrims traveling from all corners of the country to take part in the celebration.

At the same time, Carnaval de Oruro is an opportunity for the indigenous communities to showcase their cultural heritage and traditions. The festival provides a platform for indigenous groups to share their stories, music, and art with the world. It is a celebration of diversity and unity, as people from different backgrounds come together to honor their shared history.

Preserving Cultural Heritage

Carnaval de Oruro plays a crucial role in preserving the cultural heritage of Bolivia. It serves as a reminder of the rich history and traditions of the indigenous communities that have shaped the country. The festival acts as a bridge between past and present, allowing younger generations to connect with their roots and learn about their ancestors’ customs and beliefs.

In recent years, efforts have been made to recognize and protect the cultural significance of Carnaval de Oruro. In 2001, it was declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, highlighting its importance on a global scale. The recognition has helped raise awareness about the festival and its value, ensuring its preservation for future generations.


Carnaval de Oruro is not just a festival; it’s a vibrant tribute to Bolivia’s indigenous heritage and the Virgen de la Candelaria. It showcases traditional dances, music, and costumes, with the Diablada being a highlight. This celebration brings together people from varied backgrounds, embodying spirituality, diversity, and unity. Carnaval de Oruro is crucial in safeguarding Bolivia’s cultural riches, serving as a timeless bridge linking the past with the present.

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