The devils of Uquía, and the banishment of the Carnival of Jujeño
Uquía is a town in the Quebrada de Humahuaca located at 2.858 meters above sea level, where most of the year the calm and the tranquility walk through its dirt streets, ruled by the strong rays of sun. Everything is serene in Uquía until the day of the “banishment” of the carnival; at that time the village with less than 600 inhabitants – receives tourists from all over the world to see a unique show of its kind.
Dozens of colorful devils — belonging to the comparsa Los Alegres — descend from Cerro Blanco to the beat of music to celebrate the beginning of the most important festivity of the Northern Argentina. The carnival in Jujuy begins with the banishment of Pujllay (the name given to the devil, and symbolizing the sun), Los Alegres de Uquía dig up a doll representing him on the top of a sacred hill, and the excitement of all those who travel to see that moment is felt in the atmosphere . The members of the comparsa appear from the top of the hill, singing and shouting with a sharp voice, and descend several meters dancing to their Mojón — an altar made of stones — where the carnival week begins.
Let the party begin!
From that moment on, all visitors are invited to the celebration. For eight days, the comparsa dressed as devils will walk through the streets of Uquía in fulfillment of the invitations: carrying joy with her, and drinking Saratoga, the official drink of Carnival.
Saratoga is a ceremonial drink that is prepared with seasonal fruits and different varieties of alcohol; and while each has its recipe, the most popular include: white wine, rum, gin, and vodka.
The music of the comparsas sounds incessant in the streets until late at night The devils get the urge to dance block after block. The foam splashes the stages. The colors of tempera compete with those of the earth. And the talc takes over every corner of Uquía. Carnival is expressed as the moment where all the desire to enjoy that have been conhibited during the year are manifested, being a space of amalgam between nature, culture, and fun.
The calm of this Andean village returns – as every year – a week later, at the burial of Pujllay that each comparsa performs in their Mojón. And until the next Carnival.