La Supalata: Traditional celebration of the Saraguro Nation, Ecuador

March 2018

The Supalata is a traditional celebration of the Saraguro Nation, in the mountains of Ecuador that has been handed down from generation to generation, taking place in times close to the March 21 equinox, beginning of the harvest and harvesting of the fruits, celebrating life in harmony with mother earth and good living in their communities.

The Supalata is a party where the members of the communities visit house to house to receive food (mostly prepared from corn) freshly harvested or produced during the year. Some go in disguise and accompanied by musicians who sing and dance and if in some cases they are not invited with food, they shout and shout at the members of the house and throw in their fields “bad” seeds.

The contest of the Supalata aims to recover the tradition of this festival. It is organized by the Agrupación Ucors-Sayta of the San Lucas parish, its president Manuel Macas and the community of Mamita Carmen Lozano, who on behalf of the Kichwa women of the Nation Saraguro, is in charge of gathering the resources that allow this instance participatory

This year 2018, seven communities from the Kichwa Saraguro Nation participate, and from 5:00 pm they start arriving at the place of the contest: the great San Lucas Community Center, a covered space with a stage and stands for culture and sports.

On the other hand, after lunch in the community of Carmen Lozano, with members of the Oneida and Seneca Nation People of North America in an exchange facilitated by Alianza Milpa, they meet and begin to prepare the food that, as an organizing community, will offer the participants after the contest.

Once the members of the seven participating communities meet, they go to the chapel of the town of San Lucas, preparing their instruments and refining the details of their presentations; Once there, they all go on a pilgrimage to the Community Center where they are awaited by a jury and a stage with music played by a DJ from the area, amplification and lighting throughout the process; the jury will give a score for the different aspects to all the participating groups.

One by one they show how this tradition has always been carried out in their communities, children, women, the elderly, some dressed transgenerately carrying out various simulations of community actors. Thus, 5 hours of healthy sharing and special gratitude of the elderly who rejoice to recover the tradition communally. When the 7 communities have already represented their own Supalata, a dance is set up between all those present, lasting half an hour, with traditional local rhythms, by the DJ of the area.

Then the winners of the contest are announced: The first place is rewarded with a calf, the second place with a sheep and the third place with 50 chickens, plus some incentives in money. The winners, with laughter, thanks and recommendations, go on stage to receive their prizes and deliver some heartfelt words. The members of the jury, Luz Namicela and Gabriela Albuja, through their words, reinforce the sense of the contest to keep the tradition alive by inviting the communities to go out now to practice, take up, celebrate the Supalata.

After the ceremony is closed and already at night, everyone goes to a house near the community where in long lines are served: soup entry, and second a stew of tripe, rice, yuka and banana accompanied by chicha de jora (made of corn).

So they say goodbye between marked smiles and commitment to meet next year in the same place and live together around the deepest traditions that are breathed in these high and generous lands.