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  Arts & Living
"Alasitas" Festival Introduced to Seoul
Bolivian Envoy Hosts Opening Ceremony at City Hall
Madam Ambassador Guadalupe Palomeque de Taboada of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to S. Korea introduces "Alasitas" to Seoul at City Hall on Ja. 31, 2017.

"Alasitas" is the largest Alasitas fair or "Feria de las Alasitas" in Spanish. It is an annual month-long cultural event starting on January 24th in La Paz, Bolivia. It honors Ekeko, the Aymara god of abundance, and is noted for the giving of miniature items.

According to the Bolivian envoy, the world of "Alasita" means "buy me." It is a party that mixing the popular beliefs with religious spirit. At the same time it is a unique craft fair through which both adults and children realize their dreams.

The opening ceremony the traditional Bolivian festival of "Alasita 2017" was held at the Seoul City Hall in South Korea, hosted by the Bolivian envoy on Jan. 31, 2017.

At 4 p.m. on the day a gallery of local people and media gathered at the Citizen Plaza in the basement of the city hall to listen to Madam Ambassador Guadalupe Palomeque de Taboada of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to South Korea.
A host of Latin American envoys and their spouses also invited to the event.

Madam ambassador gave a detailed explanation of "Alasita" festival in her welcoming address.

The following is the full text of the Bolivian envoy.

Mr. Chang - beom KIM, Ambassador for International Relations of the Seoul Metropolitan Government,
Mr. Jeon Jaemin, President of the Korean Culture Association,
Prominent friends of the Diplomatic Corps,
Friends of the press, ladies and gentlemen:

It is a great pleasure to give you the most friendly welcome and to share with you, a sign of one of the most rooted traditions in the Bolivian culture, where every January 24, at 12:00 at noon, in the city of La Paz - Bolivia, we all go out with great faith in search of the most desired things, which we wish to obtain or specify, if it is a project, in "ALASITA", Aymara word meaning "buy me" which is a party that mixes the popular beliefs with Religious spirit, at the same time it takes place a unique craft fair, in which adults and children realize their dreams.

According to history researchers, ALASITA started as a fair in 1781, by an Ordinance of Jose Sebastian de Segurola, at that time La Paz, Bolivia Governor; it is originated by a gratitude act to the Ekeko (god of abundance) to save the city of La Paz from the indigenous siege of Túpac Katari. At that time an exchange of illas and miniatures took place.

At the fair it is sell all kinds of handmade miniatures which are reproduced by skillful craftsmen. These miniature pieces represent all the articles of common use and daily life, plus every year the news of everything that happens in Bolivia and around the world. It is also reproduced in miniature the news of the written press full of creativity and humor

This 2017 year, about 6,000 Bolivian artisans sold their miniature products, which of them can be appreciated in the photos that are on exhibition in this event and were taken on the day of the opening, just one week ago.

This fair that lasts a month, also reflects the hospitality of the Bolivian, through delicious dishes, mainly from the cuisine of La Paz city , as well as miniature pastry such as what you can try and appreciate this afternoon.

According to the tradition and the syncretism predominant in Bolivia, people buy their miniatures, which then must be Ch'alladas (Andean rite to thanks to the Pachamama) by a yatiri (Aymara indigenous wise), and then they also must go to blessed in a Catholic Church .

On the exhibition of banners that we present today, a literary work dedicated to the EKEKO and the history of the ILLA and particularly you will be able to learn more details of the miniatures that are sold, symbolizing all the dreams and wishes, which is the popular belief and hope that the Ekeko will lead to reality ….

But this Bolivian tradition was further reinforced when, on November 7, 2014, President Evo Morales, during a ceremony held at the Government Palace, showing to all Bolivians the "ILLA Ekeko," a stone sculpture of 15 , 5 centimeters tall that dates from about 2,000 years ago. This piece that was stolen from Tiwanaku (in Bolivia), in 1858, by a Swiss scientist - as he himself tells in his book "Traveling Through South America" - , was returned to Bolivia after 156 years in 2014 year, by the History Museum of Bern. Our ILLA returned to us, which is the most important deity of the Andes, meaning energy of abundance and prosperity.

With these words and the background, I would like to emphasize that "ALASITA” :

• Was proclaimed a Traditional Cultural Heritage of the city of La Paz in 1998,

• Cultural and Intangible Heritage in 2005,

• The Fair of Alasita and Ekeko was proclaimed as Heritage of La Paz, Bolivia in 2008,

• And in 2012, the Government of Bolivia registered in UNESCO the "miniature press" of the city of La Paz as the Memory of the World in Latin America and the Caribbean with collections of "ALASITA periodiquitos" (miniature newspapers) published since 1839 up to date , in an uninterrupted manner.

Ladies and Gentlemen, let the EKEKO make all your dreams come true and, above all and particularly the Ekeko may give greater prosperity to the relations between Korea and Bolivia!

Muchas gracias.

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