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'Natita' festival in Bolivia honors souls through skulls

Every year in early November Bolivians crowd local cemeteries to display the human skulls they keep at home, seeking to have the beloved craniums blessed.

'Natita' festival in Bolivia honors souls through skulls

AFP — Every year in early November Bolivians crowd local cemeteries to display the human skulls they keep at home, seeking to have the beloved craniums blessed.

Part of a centuries-old tradition, many here believe they represent the souls of the dearly departed. If treated kindly and with respect, the skulls will protect families and businesses, and grant wealth and a healthy life.

Stout Andean women wearing long skirts and bowler hats were among the crowd taking their skulls into the cemetery chapel for a blessing.

"I brought her so that she can hear mass and receive a blessing for the favors that she granted us," a woman at a La Paz cemetery chapel told AFP as she carefully clutched her skull, decked out with flowers for the event.

Many were ensconced in a bed of colorful petals in display containers that ranged from simple, open-boxes to fancy glass boxes or wood displays with glass windows.