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  HOME | Ecuador (Click here for more)

Pillaro’s Devils Dance in Virtual Challenge to the Pandemic

QUITO – The devils of Pillaro, an Ecuadorian city nestled in the heart of the country’s Andes mountains, stepped out on Friday to dance, in a virtual challenge to the coronavirus pandemic, which has also threatened the traditional New Year’s celebration.

The celebration, which involves people wearing giant devil masks dancing in the streets of Pillaro for six days from Jan. 1, moved the celebration on Friday to the neighboring hacienda Huagrahuasi to prevent crowds and minimize the spread of the virus.

Declared the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Ecuador in 2009, the “Diablada Pillareña,” which is very similar to the Oruro carnival in Bolivia, was organized this time in complete secrecy to prevent large turnouts as has happened for other similar festivities too.

And it is necessary not to “let your guard down” amid the pandemic, the mayor of Pillaro, Francisco Yanchatipan, who led the celebration in Huagrahuasi, told EFE.

A total of 30 people took part in the parade, including people dressed as devils and line pairs, which involves couples dancing in a row.

The participants made their way through Huagrahuasi’s square in front of video cameras for the broadcast of the event on a virtual platform of the city.

People seemed to have whole-heartedly embraced this format of the celebration as the live broadcast of the show has had more than 200,000 visits, according to a city official.

In total, 30 people representing seven neighborhoods of Pillaro have taken part in the parade, a very small number in comparison to the thousands that have participated in previous years.

The celebration, with the devils and line pairs and also a local band, will be repeated on Jan. 6 in a venue that has been kept secret to prevent crowds but will be transmitted live on Pillaro’s government’s channel.

Friday’s celebration has been a “symbolic representation” that has been broadcast live for “people to enjoy from home,” Mayor Yanchatipan added.

The mayor hoped that “next year the Diablada pillareña will return” to the in-person format, but added that if health reasons still persist, “mechanisms of participation” will be sought for the population.

Yanchatipan said that despite the success of La Diablada on social media, the fact that it has been virtual this year has meant “a loss” for the city’s authorities.

In previous editions, the event attracted more than 10,000 tourists every day, drawn by the colorful devils’ masks.

The mayor said that another 30 people will participate in the parade on Wednesday that can be watched online even from outside the country on Facebook, under the link “@gadmpillaro.”

The face of the devil that appears in the masks that the dancers use to welcome the new year in the streets of Pillaro is made with paper, wire, paint, and gum but, above all, with great patience and attachment to an ancient tradition.

The devils along with the guarichas (young women) and the “officials” parade to the rhythm of drums and trumpets, as they scream and curse in a catchy rhythm that both frightens and entertains.


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