LIMA – Hoping to leave behind the evils of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed nearly 38,000 lives, Peruvians faithful to the ways of their indigenous ancestors are flocking to this capital’s Wishes Fair to cleanse their auras and petition the gods for good fortune in 2021.
To the sound of bells invoking the ancient deities known as “apus,” Andean healers from southeastern Peru and eastern Bolivia offer predictions and rituals in Lima’s Manco Capac Plaza.
Surrounding a statue of Ekeko, the Lilliputian figure that represents the god of plenty, are dozens of stalls filled with amulets and “alasitas,” a generic term referring to ceramic dolls, model cars, miniature paper bills, clothing and houses bestowed as gifts.
The idea of the alasita – the word means “Buy me!” in Aymara, one of the region’s main surviving indigenous languages – is to acquire a miniature artifact corresponding to something the buyer wants.
Once blessed by an Andean shaman, the alasita is to be placed “in a visible location” in the buyer’s home, which, in combination with faith, will allow “energy to enter and the wish to come true.”
That, according to shaman Mario Huanca Mamani, who told EFE the event is a “fair of faith and hope.”
With coronavirus still looming over Peru, good health is far and away the thing most wished-for by attendees at this year’s fair, he said.
In one corner of the square, Bolivian healer Carmen Acho touts her more than 40 years of experience in ensuring that people find true love, while hawkers at nearby stands offer to predict the future by reading coca leaves.
The most popular rite is that of a dry “flower bath.”
For as little as 20 soles ($5.60), a client can have his or her aura cleansed to assure a prosperous 2021.
The process involves the use of a condor feather, an ostrich egg and “other secrets” to “remove all negative energy or illness,” healer Elena Saravia told EFE.
“It is for one’s heart to be able to flourish again, so you can pay debts, have a business” in the wake of the “evil year we have had with the virus,” Bolivian shaman Victoria “Vicky” Jalgo explains as she showers a client with yellow flowers, a traditional symbol of prosperity.
Among the more than a dozen people waiting in line to be bathed by Vicky is Ana Esther Cajas, a woman who confesses that she is turning to Andean rituals for the first time in her life under the weight of a traumatic 2020.