Ekeko

Ekeko (Equeco) is the God of abundance and prosperous life of the people living in the Andean Altiplano (high plateau) region of South America. In Aymará language word “ekeko” means a dwarf. He is depicted as the man with moustache. He wears traditional clothes. He carries several bags and baskets full of food, banknotes and some other objects needed for everyday life.

Ekeko
Ekeko

Ekeko is usually kept in houses. But people should not buy it themselves. To be really efficient the statue must arrive as someone's gift. There is also a keyring with Ekeko on it. The statue often has wide open mouth to fit the cigarette. Cigarette is lit once a year to ensure the prosperity in the coming year.

No story about Ekeko would be complete without the Alasitas festival. Religious beliefs of most Bolivians combine Catholicism and ancient beliefs of the natives. That is why the festival of Alasitas (La Fiesta de las Alasitas) is honouring both the Virgin Mary and Ekeko.

This festival exists all over Bolivia but the biggest one is held on the 24th of January in country's capital La Paz. In Aymará language word “alasitas” means “buy from me”. Before the arrival of Spaniards the festival was organized in September and its purpose was to ensure good harvest. The Spanish colonial authorities changed the date to the 24th of January as a remembrance to the 1781 siege of La Paz by the Aymará leader Tupac Katari (c. 1750 – 1781).

During festival people buy miniature replicas of objects that represent their wishes for the future. These objects are a house, car, food, plane, passport, furniture, university diploma, clothes etc. The best place in La Paz to get them is Calle Sagárnaga. There is also an organized public blessing of the objects bought. They are then presented as offerings to Ekeko. Ekeko is not only present in Bolivia. It is honoured in Peru too.