From hell thousands of demons have arrived to Ecuador to dance to the beat of the “Sanjuanitos”, a local traditional tune”, in Píllaro a canton of the province of Tungurahua. Starting in January 1 to 6, this country destination begins a new year by showing its cultural expressions on a colorful parade of music and dances. It’s the Devil’s party and you’re invited to throw some moves at the dancefloor with our “guariches”, “capariches” and other line characters, to the rhythm of the town band calling out for renewal and purification of the soul. It’s a traditional festival full of history and great symbolic value.
The “Diablada Pillareña” or Pillaro’s Devil’s Dance marks the new year start and shows part of the Ecuadorian culture. The first six days of January, in Píllaro, province of Tungurahua, the devils leave hell to dance through the main streets of the Andean town. The celebration was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Ecuador, in 2008, and has been held since memorable times. Its origin has several interpretations including the courtship of women by the Tunguipamba community gentlemen; the indigenous revolts in colonial times who wanted a celebration opposed to the Catholic religion imposed by the Spaniard conquerors and the celebration of April Fools’ Day.
Thousands of devils and demons roam the main streets of Píllaro. The devils wear colorful clothes, highlighting the masks handcrafted with impressive diabolic shapes. Men and women skillfully dance and fan the party with impeccable movements. Legend has it that those who participate in Devil’s Dance, must do so for 7 years in a row or it will have a curse in punishment that will cause some unexpected events.
The masks stands out in the devil’s figures, these are handmade by artisans months in advance with great dedication. It requires several layers of paper, cardboard, rubber and glue. They are then dried in the sun and painted. The designs include teeth, horns, fangs and more elements to make a unique and beautiful mask. The masks weigh more than 5 pounds and the devils wear them for many long dancing hours. Live a devil’s party the first 6 days of January.
“Guariches”, “capariches” and other line dancers join the parade to the beats and tunes of the town’s band. The Guariches are men traditionally dressed as women but on the latests years women have also worn and dance with this character’s suit made out of a white robe, a mesh mask and a scarf. While the Capariches are located in front, leading the dance, and carrying a broom to clean the way for the dancers. At last but not least, many line dancers in formal costumes join the party.
The town band accompanies the dancers to set the pace for the dance. “Sanjuanitos”, “pasacalles” and other rhythms fan the party. The devils perform 7 steps as part of the devil’s dance ritual. The jocularity invades all the participants. In recent years the parade has included children who seek to maintain the tradition with respect; showing in each movement the culture of an ancient heritage with a lot of history and meaning.
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