The diversity of cultures and ethnic groups characterize Colombia, a country where cultural and folkloric carnivals are common throughout the year, loaded with dance demonstrations, exhibitions, parades and countless cultural events.
Carnivals are celebrated every year on different dates, for 2023 the main days are from February 18 to 21, 2023. This celebration takes place just before Christian Lent, which in turn is a preparation for Holy Week.
The Ministry of Culture points out that “Colombia is a country recognized for its complex and rich cultural diversity that is expressed in a great plurality of identities and cultural expressions of the peoples and communities that make up the nation.”
In this sense, the voice of america He explains what are the main carnivals in Colombia and what they celebrate.
Why is Colombia a carnival country?
Abelardo Jaimes Carvajal, teacher, choreographer and researcher of the Colombian popular tradition, says that carnival is “a way that culture makes for the expression of people” and, since Colombia “is so rich in cultural expressions, carnivals and parties popular are the place of synthesis of all these expressions”.
Throughout the year, this country celebrates a carnival. In fact, says Jaimes, when the Colombian is not in carnival, he invents his own private or family celebrations, where he introduces the elements of the carnival party.
Some of the festivals and carnivals in this country have been recognized as World Heritage Sites.
What are these carnivals based on?
“Colombia has several carnivals, and each one represents, means and starts from different conceptions according to its place of enunciation,” explains a document from the Ministry of Culture.
Carnivals have different reasons: religious, historical, cultural, musical, agricultural, gratitude to the land, among others.
“The Barranquilla Carnival party, associated with the beginning of Lent and the period of religion, is not the same as the Black and White Carnival party, in Pasto… which is a call to fertility. Or the Riosucio Carnival party that summons it is literature. So, the reason that triggers the party is very varied”, explains Jaimes.
How are carnivals celebrated?
The activities in each carnival also vary according to its theme and origin. But, it is very common to see parades of dance troupes, theater, floats with elaborate artistic structures, and musical and gastronomic shows.
The most important thing, says the researcher, is that there is always a group of people “who come together to produce either the float or the pictorial manifestation, or the comparsa, or the crew, or the dancing, musical, pictorial, or literary collective.”
What are the main carnivals in Colombia?
According to Jaimes, the five largest carnivals in the country are:
– The Baranquilla carnival: It takes place from the Saturday before Ash Wednesday until the following Tuesday, in the capital of the department of Atlántico, on the Colombian Caribbean coast. “It is characterized by its spirit of mischief and mischief, in which various cultures surrounding the place come together to represent their traditions and interact with others,” according to the Ministry.
This festivity was declared a cultural patrimony of the nation by the Congress of the Republic, as of Law No. 706, of November 26, 2001, and was proclaimed by Unesco as a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity, the November 7, 2003.
The great display of folk dance is one of its strengths, in addition to the costumes and masks. His motto is: “Who lives it is who enjoys it!”.
– The Carnival of Blacks and Whites, in Pasto, Nariño: It is the most important in southern Colombia. “It is characterized by the great craftsmanship, by the construction of large sculptural and pictorial structures,” says Jaimes, which are exhibited through parades in the streets.
The festivity, which pays homage to miscegenation and multiculturalism, was declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO on September 30, 2009, thanks to the fact that it exposes a cultural mix of indigenous, Spanish and African peoples.
– The Carnival of Forgiveness in the Valley of Si-bundoy, Putumayo: it has a large indigenous presence of the Inga and Camëntsá peoples. It is based on the pre-Columbian Cult of the Earth, through the exaltation of corn. Its celebration coincides with the carnivals of the Atlantic Coast.
– The Carnival of Riosucio: It is characterized by the gang, which is a literary structure of social criticism. In this carnival, “the state of mind of the aboriginal cultures is celebrated and the mixture that they had to make up what the people of Caldas are today.” In these festivities, the figure of the devil is key because it inspires the feeling of traditional dance. It is celebrated on January 6, every two years, in the municipality of Riosucio, in the department of Caldas.
– The festivities of San Juan and San Pedro: It is a party around dance, dancing, the mastery of an artistic manifestation. It receives its name, in honor of Saint John the Baptist.
They are also known for the Folkloric Festival and the Bambuco National Reign, held in the departments of Tolima and Huila, located in the Andean region of the country, where there are also parades, reigns, and gastronomic and cultural displays.
In addition to these festivities, there is the Festival of the Vallenata Legend, which is celebrated in the municipalities of the Caribbean Coast. The Carnival of sowing, in the area of Cereté and Córdoba, among many others. The Ministry points out that there are also festivities in Colombia that are not considered carnivals, but have their own elements, such as the San Pacho Festival in Quibdó and the Cali Fair.
Source: VOA Español