RELEASE DATE: 29 Jun, 2015

EDITORIAL BY William Wroblewski

June 21 marks the Aymara New Year here in Bolivia. Coinciding with the Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, it is an important holiday for many of the indigenous groups in the region, a time where agriculturalists carry out rituals to appease two gods, Pachamama and Inti, in hopes of a successful harvest. A large celebration is carried out at Tiwanaku, a pre-Incan capital on lake Titicaca, as well as in communities across Bolivia.

Official government recognition of this holiday first came in 2009, following a supreme decree by President Evo Morales recognizing this day as a national holiday. This was an important event in Bolivian history, serving as a milemarker on the road to indigenous recognition, helping to bring ancient traditions back to the center of life here.

The reemergence of traditions and practices from before conquest has changed the face of Bolivia in seemingly countless ways. Perhaps most importantly, it has helped bolster a sense of indigenous pride, as young people are finding ways to reconnect with their ancestors. Today, many Bolivians are experiencing the ways in which past notions of the sacred intersect with currently prevailing Catholic belief systems and practices. That exchange can be both exciting and challenging to experience.  

Bolivia has always been a place of sacred spaces. From Tiwanaku and Lake Titicaca to the many churches and cathedrals dotting the landscapes of communities here, one often wonders how so many varied traditions can be found in one place. Perhaps it is this mix of beliefs and practices that brings so many travelers here to explore their spirituality in their own unique ways.

Every individual provides her or his own piece to the kaleidoscope of spiritual life. As we celebrate a new Aymara year, take in the shapes and colors of this wondrous mix dancing together in Bolivia. Join us as we navigate the ways in which beliefs and traditions guide social and political life here, and uncover many spiritual wonders that inhabit this amazing place.


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