Embracing Forgiveness: A Journey into Colombia's Vibrant Carnival with the Inga Tribe and Colombian Artisans
In February 2023, our journey brought us back to the beating heart of Colombia, where we received a warm invitation from Luz Maria, head of the Colombian artisan atelier in Putumayo. Little did we know that our stay would collide with a celebration like no other – the "Carnival of Forgiveness" or "Carnaval del Perdón." Nestled in the lush landscapes of the Sibundoy Valley, this vibrant tradition welcomed us with open arms into a world of radiant colors, heartfelt forgiveness, and the infectious rhythm of Colombian festivities.
Let the Carnival Begin: A Multicultural Explosion of Color
Before we dive into the carnival madness, let’s talk names. "El Carnaval del Perdón" in Spanish, "Bëtscnate" in Kamentsä, and "Atun Puncha" in Inga – all these names shout out one thing: "The Big Day”, or so called "Ash Wednesday.” Imagine, both the Kamentsä and Inga tribes, celebrating together in the southern part of Colombia, specifically Sibundoy Valley. They paint this valley with colors, celebrating in the towns of Sibundoy and Santiago just before Ash Wednesday.
Envision Luz Maria and her family, part of the Inga tribe, as the maestros of this carnival orchestra, infusing their unique essence into the festivities. Their cultural influence added an extra layer of magic to the celebrations, enriching the carnival with age-old traditions and a profound connection to the land. These are no ordinary parties; they are a cultural explosion, a vibrant kaleidoscope of traditions that breathe life into the streets.
Inga Tribe's Rhythm of Unity: Flowers, Dance, and Forgiveness
The Inga tribe, oh, what energy! Against the backdrop of the Colombian landscapes, they added their own kind of magic to the carnival. Picture this: flowers delicately exchanged, placed on heads like crowns of forgiveness. Simple yet profound, a gesture that screams unity and the healing vibes of forgiveness.
But wait, the party doesn't stop there. Crafting tradition becomes a feast for the eyes. Colombian artisans, the real MVPs, dive into a sea of colors, weaving ribbons, yarn, and magnificent feathered headdresses. Imagine the streets becoming a canvas, and every step, a stroke of a brush showcasing the rich tapestry of Colombian heritage.
Crafting Tradition and Vibrancy:
In the weeks leading up to the carnival, Colombian artisans pour their creativity and skill into crafting the traditional clothing that adorns the celebrants. Vibrant ribbons, yarn, the open hats for women and the intricate feathered headdresses for men showcase the artistry deeply rooted in Colombia's cultural heritage.
The Countdown to Carnival: Enthusiasm in the Air
Feel the buzz? The weeks leading up to the carnival are like a grand pre-party. Communities are abuzz with excitement. Inga tribe and Colombian artisans become a dream team, setting the stage on fire. Traditional clothing, vibrant flowers symbolizing forgiveness – every detail screams passion and enthusiasm.
And then, the carnival bursts forth like a kaleidoscope of colors, a fiesta like no other. Inga tribe, Colombian artisans, and the whole town – everyone's in on it. Drums, flutes, guitars – the heartbeat of the carnival is music that never sleeps. The townspeople dance like there's no tomorrow, uniting in a rhythmic dance of joy that echoes through the streets. Laughter rings through the cobblestone alleys, and the exchange of flowers becomes a powerful symbol of forgiveness, weaving threads of unity through the heart of the celebration. Streets come alive, and the energy is contagious, connecting every soul in a harmonious dance of shared joy and renewed bonds.
Five Unforgettable Experiences of the Carnival:
1 - Chicha:
First up, Chicha – the drink of the gods. A traditional fermented corn drink that's light, not too heavy on the alcohol, and oh-so-refreshing. Families prepare it in buckets, and it’s shared like liquid gold. Politely decline? Not an option. Our first sip? Pure magic.
2 - Sancocho:
Now, let’s talk about the real MVPs – Sancocho. Hearty stews that warm your soul, offered in houses as you parade through the streets. Chicken, beef, potatoes, corn – you name it. After dancing your heart out, Sancocho becomes the fuel that keeps the carnival fire burning.
3 - Music Making:
The beats never drop. Drums, flutes, shakers made of large seeds – everyone's got something. There's a melody, a hypnotic tune that unites everyone. It's not just music; it's a vibe that wraps around you like a warm hug.
4 - Never-Ending Party:
Put together Chicha, Sancocho, and the relentless music, and what do you get? A party that doesn't quit. We called it a night by midnight, thinking we were the wise ones. Little did we know, the real party animals kept it rolling till dawn. Small town perks? Plenty of chances to jump back into the carnival madness.
5 - Act of Forgiveness:
Picture this – Sibundoy, first day of the carnival. Flowers delicately exchanged, placed on heads like crowns of forgiveness. Simple yet profound, a gesture that screams unity and the healing vibes of forgiveness. It's more than just a ritual; it's a beautiful and sacred reminder that forgiveness propels us forward, and kindness is a beacon worth living for. Eyes locked in sincerity, it's a dance of compassion, a celebration of the profound meaning that forgiveness brings to our lives.
Our journey into the "Carnival del Perdón" is a joyous celebration, beautifully captured in our mini documentary about the Colombian artisans we work with. The personal touch of our experience with Luz Maria's family is etched into every frame, making it a visual celebration of the warmth and richness of Colombian culture. Watch it here to feel the contagious enthusiasm and spirit of the festival.
The "Carnival of Forgiveness" transcends tradition; it's a jubilant voyage into the heart of Colombia. As we embrace forgiveness and the promise of new beginnings, our deepest gratitude extends to Luz Maria and her family, the Inga tribe, and the Colombian artisans. They shared not just their traditions and craftsmanship but also the sheer joy of the carnival. May this celebration continue to bridge hearts and cultures, reminding us of the radiant beauty found in forgiveness and unity.