Have you ever heard of carnival in Guaranda?
Every year Guaranda celebrates carnival with masks, guitars, dancing, poetry, costumes, streamers, water, and more... It is the most important festivity in the province!
Despite having an important European influence, the Carnival has pre-hispanic origins related to ancestral beliefs. Within the Andean worldview, the carnival was a celebration to thank god Pachamamac for the fertility and productivity of his lands, and pay homage to the chief. The community would come together in days of dancing, singing, and partying. It didn’t matter who you were, everyone from the community those days would drink chicha, eat traditional local dishes and play the instrument they liked the most.
The Legend of Carna and Valerio
The legend also tells the story of two young lovers, Carna and Valerio, who one fine day went out for a walk in the mountains. After walking for a long time, they decided to stop and rest in a vast field, closing their eyes in a warm embrace. The “Gran Taita” or Great Father, moved by their love, asked nature to compose a beautiful song for them. The wind blew, the branches on the trees began to writhe and between laments and melodic sounds a new melody was born, a melody that was happy and nostalgic at the same time. The lovers woke up to the song, which they sang during their return trip and brought back home to share with chief Huaranga. Since then on, every year during the dates that we now know as carnival, Guaranda sings this song and celebrates the second moon with a great festival.
With the influence from the Spaniards, the festivities began adopting new traditions and meanings. For the first time the festivity was called “The Carnival of Guaranda.” The celebrations no longer coincided with the second moon only, they also marked the last days before lent: days were everyone relished in excess in preparation for the upcoming days of sacrifice.
The Carnival of Guaranda
In any case, the Carnival today is an escape from normal life, from routine, from the ordinary. It is a celebration of life, spontaneity, our ancestors’ worldview and the futility of the spaniards. Guaranda is a party made up from rituals, transformed by conquerors, but always cherished by all the Guarandeños and anyone who lives it.
In 1999 the city of Guaranda was declared Cultural Heritage of Ecuador and in 2002 the “Carnival of Guaranda” was proclaimed an Intangible Cultural Heritage. Guaranda is known as the city of “eternal carnivals.”
Do not miss out on the parades and the dances in Guaranda, which start a week before the established holiday. Bolivarenses will welcome you with poetry, dances, and chicha. The houses, open for the guests, will offer you humitas, pork, mote, corn, and tostado. The great host, better known as Taita Carnaval, will not only initiate the festivities, he will surely offer you some Pajaro Azul (local alcoholic drink).
Just remember… don’t come in your best attire because carnival here is played with cornstarch, foam, eggs and streamers!