Pujillay Festival 2016 in Tarabuco, Bolivia

I was lucky enough to be in Sucre for the third weekend of March. On this weekend, Tarabuco hosts the Pujllay Festival commemorating the defeat of the Spanish in the 12 March, 2016 Battle of Cumbate. Tarabuco is a town located 65 kilometres from Sucre, making a very pleasant day trip.

On Sunday the 20th of March I caught a bus from Sucre’s Plaza 25 de Maya to Tarabuco for the 2016 Pujllay Festival. In Tarabuco groups of locals, many wearing outrageous costumes, paraded from the town centre to an open field for further celebrations.

Pujllay Festival, Tarabuco, Bolivia

The 2016 Pujllay Festival parade in Tarabuco’s main square (the multicoloured flag is Bolivia’s second national flag and represents Bolivia’s indigenous)

Pujllay Festival, Tarabuco, Bolivia

Many festival participants wore wooden shoes with metallic plates that clanged together and acted as percussion instruments

The open field contained a wooden tower covered in offerings to Pachamama including two sides of beef, bread, coca leaves, fruit and vegetables, soft drink, alcohol, mustard, tomato sauce, margarine, olives and other food items. People sang, played music and danced around the tower until the end of the festival when the offerings were to be shared amongst those in attendance (I had left by then).

Pujllay Festival, Tarabuco, Bolivia

The tower of offerings to Pachamama

Pujllay Festival, Tarabuco, Bolivia

The men performing in traditional dress contrast substantially to the toy balloons for sale behind them

Pujllay Festival, Tarabuco, Bolivia

A Pujllay Festival participant blowing through a woodwind instrument

Pujllay Festival, Tarabuco, Bolivia

A man wearing bright pink stares intently

Pujllay Festival, Tarabuco, Bolivia

A woman singing and dancing during Tarabuco’s Pujllay Festival

Pujllay Festival, Tarabuco, Bolivia

This man blowing a horn is almost disguised by his hat and clothes

Pujllay Festival, Tarabuco, Bolivia

Pujllay Festival participants singing, dancing and playing music

Pujllay Festival, Tarabuco, Bolivia

A man blowing throwing a flexible pipe connected to a wooden log

Besides the Pujllay Festival, Tarabuco is also famous for its Sunday open air market when people come from all over the region to sell their wares. On this day the market did not impress me although I suspect that was because everybody attended the festival instead.

Pujllay Festival, Tarabuco, Bolivia

Fabric and yarn for sale in Tarabuco

Returning from the centre to to bus I visited Tarabuco’s cemetery. Every grave was decorated, largely with dark blue ribbons. I’m unsure if this was for the occasions of Pujllay, Carnival or for a separate reason.

Pujllay Festival, Tarabuco, Bolivia

Tarabuco Cemetery graves decorated with ribbons

Electricity lines throughout Bolivia, from the highlands to the lowlands, have a plant growing on them. Tarabuco is no exception and here I could take a decent photo of the plant.

Pujllay Festival, Tarabuco, Bolivia

The plant that grows on Bolivia’s power lines

Several of Tarabuco town’s doorways have shapes of the sun and fish carved in them. I expect these shapes are culturally significant.

Pujllay Festival, Tarabuco, Bolivia

The sun, a fish and a third shape carved on a Tarabuco door

The women in Tarabuco speak and sing with high pitched voices. The following video I recorded on the day contains footage of such singing along with other festivities.

 

Tarabuco’s Pujllay Festival is a wonderful day trip from Sucre and if you are in the area around the third Sunday of March I highly recommend visiting.