Monday, November 26, 2012

Fiesta de la Jora Parade

Way back in September we had the Festival La Jora.  There was much activity during that time but most of what I'll share is about the parade and the food event where we expats had an extremely successful table.
Not all the parade watchers were people.  Three of the much-loved dogs of Cotacachi: Gizmo, Chia, and Paco enjoyed the festivities every bit as much as their people (Debbie, Mary, and Carolyn)

Before we get to the rest of the photos you've no doubt come to expect from me, Mickey Enright, one of our local Realtors, wrote in her blog a lovely description of Jora and the Chicha which is made at that time.
(Jora), which unites and strengthens the Andean people and cultures.   This is the start of the planting season for corn, beans, chochos, and quinoa. The locals traditionally thank Nature, which they call Pacha Mama, for the fertility of the earth. 
In this Fiesta de la Jora, the fruits of the earth mother are specially treated so that making and drinking the Chicha together serves as a symbol of reciprocity with the deities; solidarity with neighbors and even a kind of redistribution of what they have managed to produce together. 
This celebration began to be recognized as part of Cotacachi community identity 52 years ago, and was founded as a public festival by members of the Club El Nacional, who since the early years designated a Queen of the Jora for her moral, intellectual and physical qualities. 
Over time, a civil Party Committee took over the task of organizing this event with the support of the Municipal Administration. The Fiesta de la Jora, with its displays of music, culture, art and gastronomy has always been a reflection of the essence of Cotacachi. 
Preparation of Chicha, “drink of the gods” 
The process of preparing the Chicha de Jora is long and laborious. This beverage was used in the past especially for Minga, (community work-togethers), and for regular working days also during season. 
This local version of fermented Chicha is prepared with 7 dry grains such as: germinated maize, wheat, barley, white and yellow and chulpe corn grains and a popcorn type called canguil. It is a process that takes about 3 months starting with germinating maize in leaves of “gilguirillas”, changing the soaking water continuously for 12 days. 
These sprouted grains, together with other ingredients are left to dry a specific period of time before being roasted or toasted and then ground. To give a characteristic flavor, the mixture that results is boiled with water in a bronze vessel for at least 8 hours, additional herb and spice ingredients are added, depending on personal or regional preferences. 
This preparation is then fermented in a container which is known as a Pondo. The natural fermentation process is traditionally only for a couple or a few days, at which point, the Chicha is strained and sweetened and ready for consumption. The level of alcohol is very low at this point- about 2 percent, although if it were fermented for a few weeks it can become a bit stronger. (from Mickey Enright's blog)
There was a fabulous parade this year.  It was well over three hours long and it was nothing short of magnificent.  As always, it was nearly impossible to choose just a few photos so I've done what I always seem to do and decided to share tons of them in a series of posts.

Ah, dear, where to start?  There are so many photos and I've already cut them down to the ones I can't bear not to share.  I'll just start and see what happens and go from there.
People from local indigenous villages bring examples of their produce to demonstrate how well their crops did that year..

Other villages show off their dance skills.  Many of these people are not youngsters and they danced their way all the way through town--well over three hours by the time they were done.  I got tired just watching them in front of where I was standing.

Many of the village groups had displays of their produce to show off as they walked through town.

This village had a small float.  Everyone handed out flowers to the crowd.  This village is probably one that grows flowers to sell.

Everyone here was dancing but my favorite person was the man on the right side of the picture.  He danced his little heart out and just looked so cute with his shorts and knobby knees.

Floats came in all sizes.  This little one had as much time lavished on it per square foot as any of the others. It was lovely.

Here is the reigning queen from last year.  This year's queen was chosen that night after the parade.

I'm not sure if this qualifies as a float but I thought it was lovely.  I'm sure there was a significance to the sash the woman wore but I have no idea what it said.  I just thought it was lovely.

This float would fit in very nicely at the Rose Parade.  Just about every square inch of it was covered in roses.
Isn't this one lovely?  The jug (pondo) and bowl at the far end of the float is a representation of the chicha being poured into the bowl to share with everyone.

There's another jug (pondo) at the font of the float and a giant bowl in the center to represent the chicha.

Many more photos to come.


  1. Hi Cynthia,
    Your blog and the stories you present are wonderful! As we prepare to pack and move to Ecuador, I am enjoying learning about the fabulous culture and traditions of this beautiful people through your writings. I hope those who view your blog know that they can click on a photo and then view an enlarged version/slideshow of the beauty, pride and joy of the Ecuadorian culture as seen through your lens. You've captured it well!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Linda.

      Yes, I hope people know they can view the photos larger as well. I try to mention it every couple of months but sometimes it gets away from me. I'll mention it in my next post.

      I look forward to meeting you when you get down here.