Monday | December 11, 2017
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Bolivians pay homage to skulls in annual festival

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Every year, hundreds of Bolivians bring human skulls adorned with flowers to a cemetery in the capital of La Paz, asking for money, health and other favors as part of a festival.

Devotees showed up with the skulls, known as “natitas,” Wednesday for a short Mass. The ritual is celebrated a week after the Day of the Dead and includes music, dance and the lighting of candles.

The Roman Catholic Church considers the skull festival to be pagan, but it doesn’t forbid people from taking part. The festival is a mix of Andean ancestral worship and Catholic beliefs. Experts say it was common in pre-Columbian times to keep skulls as trophies and display them to symbolize death and rebirth.

“Every year, I do this because my ‘natitas’ take care of me and heal me when I’m ill,” said Esperanza Mozon.

 

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