The Ch´alla of Carnaval

Sonia Mamani

Have you ever seen or experienced anything to do with Martes de Ch´alla? You don´t know what it is?? You cannot miss this experience of life in the different regions of Bolivia! So, what is it?

For the majority of Bolivian families, Martes de Ch´alla is a day which they long for and whose arrival they celebrate. They have a celebration as an offering of thanks to Pachamama (Mother Earth). It is also the last of the four days of Carnaval.

La Ch´alla basically consists of decorating houses, cars, businesses, offices and all kinds of goods with colourful ornaments. These ornaments consist of different coloured petals, serpents, colourful pennants, balloons and confectionery which is used to sweeten everything. This leaves a burst of festive colour on every street corner accompanied by the offering of traditional beer or wine to Pachamama.

La Ch´alla is a liberation for the people through which the Gods are placated with rituales, offerings, music and dance so that they provide the optimum conditions for agricultural production (Diario Digital, 2008). Finally, firecrackers are set off, making a thunderous noise. Our ancestors used to say these would banish evil spirits, says Rosa Mamani.

However, nowadays, in urban areas, La Ch´alla begins on Fridays, the same day as the start of Carnaval week in offices. La Ch´alla is celebrated in the same way in rural areas but retaining the importance in the celebration of all the types of crops that families depend on to live.

Normally, the offerings are made using special altars in an Andean ritual. Small sheets of poster paper are covered with many different elements such as sweets, coca leaves, incense, wool and other symbolic objects that represent work, health, money and love among other things. Finally, this is all burnt as an offering to Mother Earth so that she will bring blessings and prosperity in regard to the family and in other areas.

According to belief, all of this celebration should happen very early in the morning of Martes de Ch´alla because the ancestral spirits are hungrily waiting for their offerings says Mamani. She also explains that the more one gives, the more they will receive.

It is for these reasons that, if you have not experienced this celebration then you should try to. The majority of Bolivians share their celebrations with family and friends through different types of music and dancing. It is this explosion of joy that characterises Carnaval. Enjoy it!   


Ch'alla- celebration, thankfulness and blessing


EABOLIVIA.COMDiario Digital-Noticias de Bolivia, 2008. El Alto,La Paz-Bolivia.consultado el 9 de febrero de 2017


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Carnaval / Martes de Ch´alla / different regions of Bolivia / Bolivian families / Pachamama (Mother Earth) / traditional beer / Andean ritual