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World Celebrations: Devils And Horns!

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Diablada dancer, 2009.

Each week on World Music, we not only hear great sounds from around the world, but I share a little news about the many interesting festivals that are taking place this week as well. This week, hear about horns and devils that don't necessarily go together...


As you head into the small town of Rocca Canterano, just outside Rome, the banner at the entrance reads ‘Welcome All You Cuckolds!’ The ‘Festival of the Horned One’ applies to all men who have been rejected, cheated on, or just plain dumped!

Some say the festival dates back to the Roman Empire, when soldiers would return from the wars to find that their loving significant other had moved on. Another story tells of a brother and sister, and that the brother was determined that his sister would be protected by him from all males. She was kept her a virtual prisoner. However, a young man who fancied her collaborated with the sister to enable her to escape the brothers clutches, when she did so her brother was well and truly cuckolded.

Whichever story is correct, next Tuesday, November 12th is regarded as an opportunity for all rejected men to show a ‘devil may care’ attitude at a jovial parade. They wear horns on their heads and long white robes tied with red belts, and the procession is led by the most deceived male, who is carried on a throne. There’s a poet dressed entirely in red, making derogatory comments about the feckless and erstwhile former lovers. A huge pair of concrete horns--the symbol of betrayal--is carried on a platform down to the Piazza degli Eroi where the entertainment continues with songs, dances and general merriment. 


Back in 1577, when Peru was under the control of the conquering Spanish Conquistadores, one of the Spaniards attempted to tear down the miner’s abodes. Fortunately, the Virgin of Candelaria, the patron saint of the miners, sprang into to action and appeared as a vision, and scared off the would-be interloper. In fact the Virgin is honored with her very own ‘devilish festival’ in early February.

The Spanish eventually left Peru in the 19th century and the locals were ecstatic. It was party time and so with a mixture of Christianity and paganism, La Diablada was created. The dance was inspired by the Jesuit Missionaries who had taught the locals about the Seven Deadly Sins, angels, and the devil, in the form of dances. Today the festival has many gaudy and fearsome devils and also a few angels. The dance is performed along the shores of Lake Titicaca to appease the spirits within and basically say good riddance to their former oppressors. Five days of dancing, feasting and drinking begins today and ends on November 5th. There are a few contentious issues regarding the origins of this event, Bolivians insist it started with them as the ideas and costumes are similar but their traditional dance is known as Son De Los Diablos.

Learn more about these and other celebrations happening around the world this week on World Music with Deirdre Saravia, Saturday nights at 8:00 on KSTX 89.1 FM.

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Deirdre as born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and her first paid work was at the age of 10 with the BBC as an actress on "Children's Hour." She continued to perform regularly on radio and stage for the next eight years, at which point she was informed by her parents that theater was not an option and she needed "real" work.