Cirilo and 88 other ñatitas leave the common grave to celebrate their day

Cirilo and 88 other ñatitas leave the common grave to celebrate their day

Luis Escobar / La Paz

Cirilo will see the light again. The most miraculous ñatita from the General Cemetery of La Paz will be unearthed this afternoon along with her 88 companions from eternity. They will take away the land accumulated for two years and on Monday, first thing in the morning, they will place them on an altar in the Muro de las ñatitas, an exclusive space for them to receive gifts and be pampered by hundreds of followers.

The Wall of the ñatitas, which is at one end of the Cemetery.
Photo: Archive

The ñatitas festival will begin this Sunday in the La Paz cemetery. Around 3:00 p.m., the municipal workers will arrive with their tools to exhume, with the greatest of care, the 89 skulls that rest in this place. They will take away their two-year land because in the previous administration the Mayor’s Office suspended the party and closed the doors of the Cemetery to avoid contagion of covid.

The workers keep the ñatitas in a warehouse so that they can spend the night undisturbed. At 8:00 on Monday, November 8, they will place them on an altar that will be provisionally built with wooden planks to be venerated by hundreds of faithful who will arrive at the La Paz cemetery.

Jade, “teacher” and “healer”, also known as the “graduate in parapsychology”, claimed to be in charge of taking care of the Wall of the ñatitas. The place is located in one of the extreme walls of the General Cemetery.

“This place is the cemetery of forgotten souls and of those who no longer have a family,” he told Página Siete Jade, who, like every week, visits the skulls.

How do they get to the wall?

The bodies that are abandoned by their relatives in the General Cemetery are exhumed after the notifications that are placed in the niche. The administration takes them to the warehouses that are in the cellars of the pavilions built in the southern part.

They are placed in mortuary bags duly identified in case a relative appears. There are many who are not claimed and spend years in the place.

Julián, the inspector who worked for more than 20 years in the Cemetery, said that skulls are “chosen” from the forgotten remains to take them to the Wall of the ñatitas. The other bones are buried in a mass grave.

Another of the cemetery workers – who preferred not to give his name – said that there is a second option for the number of skulls to increase. “Some families have their ñatita in their homes, but they reach a point where they can no longer bear her presence. They hear footsteps and noises, even that they speak to them. They are with the skulls for three years and then they decide to bring them to the Cemetery ”, he assured.

The feast of the skulls

On November 8, tomorrow, hundreds of believers will arrive at the Cemetery with gifts for the ñatitas. They will bring candles, cigars, coca, alcohol and flowers. They will leave all the offerings to give thanks to the “miraculous” skulls.

“Among all the ñatitas, the most revered is called Cirilo. But, I think they are all miraculous. We only have to ask for the favor with faith and affection so that it is fulfilled ”, added the worker.

Jade limited herself to saying that Cyril was “a bricklayer” and agreed that he is the most miraculous. “On a personal level, I had a problem: I am a separated woman and I came crying. Suddenly Cyril appeared, who is well known in this place. I knelt down and felt his arm on my shoulder. He appeared by my side as if to say to stop crying, that he would help me ”, she said.

This happened 18 years ago and since then Jade “took over” the place. “You have to have a lot of faith. Cirilo died and showed up when I was praying with all my heart. Souls grant the favor that you ask of them ”, he commented.

Cirilo and 88 other ñatitas leave the common grave to celebrate their day
Devotees wear flower crowns to celebrate the ñatitas.
Photo: Page Seven

Cirilo will not go unnoticed at the feast of the ñatitas. On top of it, the believers will place dozens of wreaths of flowers and it will be recognized from afar for its Lluch’u. At his side, there will also be other miraculous natitas, such as Verónica, Viki, Denis, Fabricio, Wilma, Paola, Gustavo, Edwin, Hugo and many others.

Among the skulls there are men, women and even minors. The worker said that another of the most recognized is called “Child Jesus.”

The tradition

These will not be the only skulls in the General Cemetery. Rodney Miranda, municipal secretary of Cultures of La Paz, confirmed that the cemetery will receive other ñatitas who will be carried by many devotees.

The owners will carry them in urns, in boxes or in their hands to receive the blessing of the priest. They will then place them in the planters and in unoccupied niches, where altars will be installed so that they are venerated by the faithful.

Cirilo and 88 other ñatitas leave the common grave to celebrate their day
Before the pandemic, people celebrated the ñatitas with bands of music and dances.
Photo: Page Seven

The devotion to the ñatitas is related to Todos Santos, a festival that was celebrated on November 2. It is believed, according to Aymara tradition, that the ajayu or spirit still rests in the remains of people.

For this reason, many faithful come to spend parties or “prestes” in honor of the skulls. The interns, as if it were a saint, give the ñatita to another couple so that the following year they can organize a new event. Jade said that, at that moment, the followers ask them for favors, they place garlands of flowers, candles, coca and cigarettes. “It is a tradition”.

“Miguel was a skull that we had with my parents. It is very miraculous and I invited my neighbors so that they can pray for her, also so that they can light cigarettes. At first they did not believe me, but little by little they added. They began to make progress and were doing well in their businesses. His fame grew until we decided to pay the loan and we continue to do so until now, ”said Juana Arispe, a devotee of the commercial Uyustus street.

After the party, on November 8 in the afternoon, the ñatitas will again be buried until next year.

The wall that is never empty

When the festival of the skulls passes, the devotees continue visiting the Wall of the ñatitas. “Every Monday is for luck, health, work, sales and everything good. On Tuesdays and Fridays they usually light candles because people did not do well, they need to have a source of income or –in some cases– because they have curses, ”said Jade.

“For all those bad things Tuesday and Friday come. That means that people go to souls to ask that they do well, “he added.

At the top of the wall a sign was placed: “No black candles allowed.” Jade explained that it is forbidden to do “bad things”, such as curses or black magic. “Only white candles are allowed,” he stressed.

Every week, Jade visits the wall those three days from 8:00 to late afternoon. During this time, the faithful arrive to light candles and place flowers for the ñatitas.

“As no one remembers them, the little skulls access salvation through people’s prayers. In return, they grant favors, “he explained. In the three days of visit, the devotees even have to line up to chat and receive help from Jade.

Sometimes she ties 10 to 12 cigarettes and lights them all at once. “It is to counteract. If the person is stuck, they turn around. Without hurting, cleaning is done through cigarettes and candles ”, he commented.

“The ñatitas are miraculous and, if people come with faith, you can ask them for all kinds of favors and they grant the requests. Then, in gratitude for the help, the devotees must give an offering, not in money, but a flower and a mass, “he added. Throughout the year, the faithful come for different problems such as trials and separations. “Souls will always be providing help.”

“Among all the ñatitas, the most revered is called Cirilo. They are all miraculous. We only have to ask for the favor with faith and affection ”.

A cemetery worker

For the party, workers clean and fix the La Paz cemetery

Cirilo and 88 other ñatitas leave the common grave to celebrate their day
The party of the ñatitas that took place last year.
Photo: Page Seven

Page Seven / La Paz

For tomorrow, the General Cemetery is getting ready to celebrate the ñatitas with a dramatization. In addition, in recent days, the administration has been cleaning and improving the gardens of the cemetery.

“We will do an activity at the ñatitas party. We will build an altar for the skulls. We will see to carry out a dramatization and dramatization of what this celebration of gratitude to the deceased is for the care that people receive ”, said the Secretary of Culture of the Mayor’s Office, Rodney Miranda.

The director of the Municipal Decentralized Entity of Cemeteries of La Paz, Patricia Endara, said that the cemetery is being prepared for this holiday.

“We will prepare for the festival of the ñatitas. On Sunday afternoon (today), we will start with the traditional unearthing so that everything is ready on Monday ”, said the director.

He assured that they will demand that believers present their vaccination certificates or negative anticovid tests. He indicated that, in addition, all visitors must wear chinstraps correctly and comply with social distancing.

Workers from the Mayor’s Office of La Paz made arrangements on road 42 of the General Cemetery, where skulls are worshiped. In addition, the officials cleaned the corridors and removed accumulated material to improve the movement of people. They fixed the planters, pruned the trees, painted the sidewalks and renewed the signage. There are new murals alluding to life and death in the pavilions.

For this activity, less attendance is planned for the celebration of Todos Santos. Between Monday and Tuesday, November 1 and 2, more than 60,000 people visited the cemetery according to a municipal report.

In 2019 and in other negotiations there were 80,000 visits. Last year 47,000 family members went to the Cemetery, that number fell due to COVID infections. Faced with this situation, the Mayor’s Office insisted that people attend days before and after.

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