When: The festival lasts about 9 days, it begins this year on May 1st, but the main day is always May 3rd
Where: Both the Alasitas Fair and the Festivity of the Bellavista Cross will take place in the neighborhood of Bellavista (ask for Barrio Bellavista), which is close to Puno’s city center and thus within walking distance from the train station and most hotels. Stalls will be set up along Avenida Floral, up to the height of La Paccha (Zampoña)
This May, more than a thousand eight hundred artisans and vendors will be participating in the Alasitas Fair, an Aymara tradition dedicated to the fulfillment of dreams and practiced in the buying and selling of miniatures. Common items include homes, vehicles, money, construction materials, grocery stores, diplomas and licenses, travel documents and more.
Many of these miniatures are destined to be bestowed on statues of the Aymara deity of abundance and prosperity, Ekkekko (dwarf). These represent the wishes of each person, which they hope the Ekkekko will grant them in the coming year. Once families have received an Ekkekko statue (you’re supposed to receive them, or give them as gifts, but not buy one for yourself), they’re responsible for giving him cigarettes and speaking to him to ensure his good graces. You’ll see Ekkekkos throughout the fair, dressed in traditional ponchos, with characteristically open mouths so that you can offer him pleasing cigarettes, and with open arms that you can fill them with miniature goods. In order to help the items bring you luck, it is customary for vendors to bless your purchase, performing a ritualistic ceremony for you in which he or she blows a charcoal and incense smoke over them, sprays them with alcohol, sprinkles confetti, and them wraps them in long thin ribbons while chanting.
The Alasitas fair is an interesting stop thanks to the ingenious variety of miniatures, the carnavalesque atmosphere, and parties that continue into the night. It runs at the same time as the Festivity of the Bellavista Cross, in a classic representation of the syncretism of Andean beliefs.
It all begins on May 1st with the Popular Miniature Art Fair’s inauguration, reception of the musical bands and the welcome to the Lord of the Bellavista Cross. Before the ceremony there’ll be a colorful parade and the entry of the Ekkekko.
On the 2nd, the day will break to the burning of the castles, so expect to hear loud booms throughout Puno as these wooden constructions laden with fireworks are lit. May 3rd is always the main day, which will see the mass and procession in honor of the Bellavista cross. Some sources say that the miniature craftsmen competition and the awarding of prizeswill take place on May 3rd in Parque de la Madre, others on May 9rd.
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