The Alasitas Fair in Bolivia

The Alasitas fair is an annual month-long cultural event starting on January 24th in La Paz, Bolivia. It honours Ekeko, the Aymara god of abundance, and is noted for the giving of miniature items. The indigenous Aymara people observed an event called Chhalasita in the pre-Columbian era, when people prayed for good crops and exchanged basic goods. Over time, it evolved to accommodate elements of Catholicism and Western acquisitiveness. Its name is the Aymara word for “buy me”. The Alasitas festival is held annually for the Ekeko. It sprawls along many streets and parks in central La Paz and smaller events are held in many neighborhoods around the city. People attend the event from all over the city and even travel from other cities inside Bolivia to buy miniature versions of goods they would like to give to somebody else. These goods can be blessed by any one of the men and (less frequently) women acting as shaman. It is believed that if somebody gives a miniature version, the recipient will get the real object in the course of the following year. Examples of goods that can be bought are household items, food, computers, construction materials, cell phones, houses, cars, university diplomas and even figures of domestic workers (whom the recipient might hope to employ).

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A woman sells statues of the Ekeko, god of fortune, at the traditional “Alasitas” fair in La Paz January 24, 2015. During the fair, Bolivians buy miniature versions of goods like cars, money and houses they would like to own in real life during the year. (Photo by David Mercado/Reuters)

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A woman holds miniatures of a video camera, a tablet and a telephone during the “Alasitas” fair in La Paz January 24, 2015. (Photo by David Mercado/Reuters)

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A witch doctor blesses an “Ekeko”, the god of fortune, during the “Alasitas” fair in La Paz January 24, 2015. (Photo by David Mercado/Reuters)

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Miniature houses are displayed during the “Alasitas” fair in La Paz January 24, 2015. (Photo by David Mercado/Reuters)

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Residents attend to the fair of “Alasitas” fair in La Paz January 24, 2015. (Photo by David Mercado/Reuters)

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A man holds miniature tools during the “Alasitas” fair in La Paz January 24, 2015. (Photo by David Mercado/Reuters)

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Miniature models of trucks are displayed during the “Alasitas” fair in La Paz January 24, 2015. (Photo by David Mercado/Reuters)

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People reach for imitation bank notes that were blessed by a witch doctor during the “Alasitas” fair in La Paz January 24, 2015. (Photo by David Mercado/Reuters)

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Hundreds accompany the Bolivian deity statuette “illa of Ekeko” as it is driven to the Alasitas Fair, in which Ekeko is the central figure, in La Paz, Bolivia, Saturday, January 24, 2015. The pre-Columbian figurine that symbolizes abundance was recently returned to Bolivia by the National Museum of Berna in Switzerland, 156 years after being taken away from its native country. “Alasitas” is an Aymaran word that means “buy me”, and is the name of the annual fair where people buy miniature items that represent things they hope to attain within the year. (Photo by Juan Karita/AP Photo)

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An Andean religious leader holds an urn with burning incense in a procession of the Bolivian deity statuette “illa of Ekeko” as it is driven to the Alasitas Fair, in which Ekeko is the central figure, in La Paz, Bolivia, Saturday, January 24, 2015. (Photo by Juan Karita/AP Photo)

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Crowds accompany the Bolivian deity statuette “illa of Ekeko” as it is driven to the Alasitas Fair, in which Ekeko is the central figure, in La Paz, Bolivia, Saturday, January 24, 2015. (Photo by Juan Karita/AP Photo)

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Andean religious leaders carry urns with burning incense in a procession of the Bolivian deity statuette “illa of Ekeko” as it is driven to the Alasitas Fair, in which Ekeko is the central figure, in La Paz, Bolivia, Saturday, January 24, 2015. (Photo by Juan Karita/AP Photo)

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