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La Tirana

Dancing with the Devil in La Tirana
Every year, July 12-16, the quiet northern village of La Tirana, in the arid Tarapaca region of Chile, honors the Virgen del Carmen with one of the largest religious festivals in the country. La Virgen del Carmen is the patron saint of Chile and tells of the struggle of good over evil through dance, music, and ornate devil and angel costumes. During the festival, the population of the village swells from 600 to over 200,000.

Pilgrims arrive from other towns across northern Chile, Bolivia, and Peru by bus, car, and even on foot to celebrate and pay homage to the Virgen in a series of nearly two hundred "bailes," dances. Within the dances, the most famous one is La Diablada, performed by "diablos," devils. The dancing group, usually about 20 people, don ornate, colorful costumes and masks depicting carnival-esque devil faces. They dance through the village streets followed by a brass band, jumping and turning pirouettes.

Photo: Kendal Montgomery (http://www.kendalmontgomery.com)
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La Tirana, Pozo Almonte, Tarapacá Region, Chile