Most of us have a ‘dark side’ to ourselves which sometimes drives us to do some unacceptable things, right? And so we work on concealing it from the outside world and put on the mask of the most decent being. But did you know, here in Venezuela people exhibit their ‘dark side’ literally by dressing up as devils, putting on ferocious, spine-chilling masks and dancing frantically on the streets?
Diablos Danzantes del Yare: Dancing Devils of Yare, Venezuela
June 4, 2015
So what exactly is this?
The Dancing Devils is a religious festival celebrated on the day of the Feast of Corpus Christi in Venezuela. Like many religious festivals, Diablos Danzantes commemorates the triumph of good over evil. However, unlike many religious festivals, the townspeople celebrate Diablos Danzantes by dressing up as devils, donning fierce masks and dancing frantically around the town square.
The Devils and their forms
Diablos Danzantes or Dancing Devils is celebrated throughout the central coastal regions of Venezuela and there are subtle differences visible in each community’s ritual. Even the costumes vary from one place to another. In San Francisco de Yare, a town in the state of Miranda, Venezuela, the ‘devils’ dress in all red which they believe is the colour of the devil and wear masks to mirror the winged dragons. In another town, the ‘devils’ dress up in costumes that are works of art itself—hand-painted pants and shirts decked with crosses, devil faces, flames and other imagery. Their masks are just as psychedelic as their clothes.
So how is Diablos Danzantes celebrated?
The devils move around chaotically, stomping their feet, waging battles with the guardians and whirling around to confront other participants. Live music accompanies the dancers and this colourful parade makes it way to the steps of the local church, where the devils surrender and fall to their knees in front of the church where the priest blesses them. This is the ultimate symbol of the triumph of good over evil and it cannot possibly get any less cryptic. After all, this is the true meaning of Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ. Music and dancing continues as people rejoice in the ultimate truth that good always wins over evil.