Last year I wrote about a memorable International Woman's Day in Vietnam. It was the first time for me in a socialist country. The affirmation of women was very interesting when I come from a prospective that Asian women were not an integral part of daily, or should I say, business society. (That is such an American view – to think a person's value is limited to the conducting of commerce.
When we know that in most places other than the U.S. have had women in higher political and commercial positions.) In many cultures women seem to rule behind the scene. Now that I am in Bolivia there is an apparent culture of machismo. Here the men frequently leave the house and are never heard from again. In the pueblos it is the women who run the commerce and the family. The men work the fields or in the past the mines. Many have a life independent of their families. Many leave to earn money elsewhere. In fact, nearly every family in Bolivia has someone working elsewhere in the world - Spain, Germany, Korea, Japan, Brazil, United States in order to go to school or send money back. It was interesting that one teacher said a good friend, who had been living in the US withoutpermanent documents, returned home with enough money to buy a new house, have a car and support the children's education. It is no wonder that overseas lives seem so attractive.
The yin and yang of the world has been determined. The epicenter of the yang (maleness) of the world is said to be located in Nepal/Tibet and the Yin (femaleness) is in the Andes. The Aymara culture familial head is the mother. The Quechua culture honors Pachamama (mother earth) with her mines being the source of life and yet some foreboding. Most of the myths of the Andes are connected to the harmony and liberty of the balance between the various parts of nature in what every phase of life.
The pre Christian celebration of the coming of growing seasons blend the sun, water and earth. Concurrently, the post conquistador, rites are concurrent with the same growing season and Easter celebrations.
In South America Rio de Janero is famous for Mardi Gras. The only thing that closely approximates it in the U.S. is Mardi Gras in New Orleans. These seem to focus on the many similar floats and commercial/Hollywood/or theatrical characters. Bolivia still has a festival in Oruro, now recognized as a World Heritage Patrimonial celebration by UNESCO.
The groups in the Carnival parade vary from very simple to truly indigenous to the flamboyant. It is a blend of very traditional costumes and dances. It integrates the local connection and harmony with mother earth (pachamama) who is frequently portrayed as the Mary, the mother of Jesus with the European mother and child.
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