Guaranda Carnival

Guaranda Carnival
The carnival tradition was brought to South America by European settlers. Over the years, European customs have been influenced by the cultures of Afro-Caribbean slaves and indigenous population, so modern Latin American carnivals have a unique flavor. One of the most famous carnival celebrations in Ecuador is held in Guaranda. The Guaranda Carnival attracts thousands of tourists every year.

Like other carnival celebrations in Latin America, the Guaranda Carnival is a blend of European and local traditions. The celebration is part Christian, part pagan. The Christian component is reflected in the timing of the Carnival. The celebrations are held during the week preceding the Lenten season and culminate on Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras). However, some rituals such as spraying each other with water have their roots in ancient Inca fertility rituals.

Long before the arrival of Europeans, native Ecuadorians celebrated the second moon of the year with a festival at which they threw flowers and flour and sprayed perfumed water at each other. Centuries later, this tradition merged with the Catholic carnival celebrations. That’s how Ecuadorian Carnival was born.

A common feature of the carnival in Guaranda and other Ecuadorian cities is the diabolitos (little devils) who throw or dump water on unsuspecting victims. Flour and eggs are sometimes thrown into the mix, so things can get really messy.

The carnival season in Guaranda kicks off with the arrival of Taita Carnival (Father Carnival) who heads the festivities and leads the parade. This character is the symbol of the festival, he dons a red poncho, brown pants, a black hat, and a white, red and blue scarf.

The Guaranda Carnival is a series of colorful parades, flour and water battles, feasts, dance and music performances, concerts, parties, and other events and activities. Tourists from all over Ecuador and abroad come to Guaranda to participate in the festivities and sample delicious local dishes such as fritada (fried pork), mote (boiled corn grains), blood sausage, as well as beverages including chicha and pájaro azul.

The celebration culminates on Shrove Tuesday, the last day before Lent. The Grand Parade featuring dancers, musicians and other performers in colourful traditional costumes attracts thousands of spectators. It’s the ultimate celebration of Ecuadorian culture and indigenous heritage.

Guaranda Carnival

Photo: Martí Quintana Badosa




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