Every year on the third Sunday of March, Tarabuco celebrates Pujllay (or the Carnaval de Tarabuco), one of the best-known indigenous fiestas in Bolivia. Pujllay commemorates the battle of Jumbate on March 12, 1816, during the Independence War, when the Tarabuceños ambushed a battalion of marauding Spanish troops, slaughtering all but the drummer boy and eating their hearts in ritual revenge for abuses committed by the Spanish. During the fiesta, all the surrounding Tarabuceño communities come to town dressed in their finest ceremonial costumes, joined by thousands of tourists. Following a Mass to commemorate the battle, the participants stage folkloric dances and parades whilst knocking back copious amounts of chicha (fermented maize beer), beer and pure cane alcohol. The climax of the celebration takes place around a ritual altar known as a pukara, raised in honour of the Tarabuceños who died in the battle and formed from a kind of wooden ladder decorated with fruit, vegetables, flowers, bread, bottles of chicha and other agricultural produce. Drinking and dancing continues through the night: if you want to sleep, you’re better off returning to Sucre.

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