Every January the bolivians celebrate the day of the ekeko”, also known as Iquiqu or tunupa. He is a deity venerated by the Bolivian people from centuries before the conquest of the South American territory by the Spaniards. His area of influence extends through the Andes of the Peru and reaches Argentina where it is usually known by other names.
The ekeko’s origin goes back to the ancient people of Tiahuanaco, an ancient civilization from before the Incas, whose people adored it because they believed that it drove misfortune from their homes. After annexing the former territory of Tiahuanaco to the Inca Empire, the Incas adopted the deity and made it a symbol of fertility and good luck. Despite centuries of Christianization by the priests who came with the Spaniards, this ancestral custom persists to this day.
The ekeko, or god of abundance, is a very benevolent amulet. He can grant all desires just by asking them. For this end he is overloaded with all kinds of miniature objects, be they dollar bills, appliances, cars, food, or, indeed, anything one might wish. For this reason, from his body hang small packages like saddlebags. The holder of the ekeko can add new desires whenever she or he needs to.
To be effective, the ekeko must be given and not bought. To get the ekeko to give them their requests, you place a lit cigarette in the mouth every time you are asked a desire and smokes it until it is completely consumed. If the cigarette is only half consumed then it is bad omen. If the ekeko smokes it until the end then it suggests he will grant your desire. You can only make requests on Tuesdays and Fridays at noon or midnight. Every time you ask to have a desire met you give the ekeko a smoke. If the wish or request is accepted, the cigarette will smoke as if the ekeko smoked it. The ekeko is often owned by single girls, who instead of having a partner prefer to have the ekeko who will grant them all their wishes in exchange for their fidelity to him.
Written by: Fidelus Coraza Morveli
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