Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean

Portal of Culture of Latin America and the Caribbean

Ecuador - Celebration Virgen de las Nieves-Chota community

This celebration is one of the most important in the ancestral territory of the Chota-Mira, Salinas and Guallupe. The celebrations last for more than a week and its origins go back to a dream Doña Zoilita´s mother had, in which she saw a virgin wrapped in clouds. It was then that she decided to have a sculpture of the virgin made and to ask for alms (celebrate mass for the virgin for the first time). Tradition dictates that one week before the celebration the image of the saint is taken out of the church of the town on the shoulders of the faithful, and transferred to the house of the custodian of the brotherhood.This marks the beginning of the novena to venerate the patron saint.
This catholic rite is fused with other popular actions such as the cry of market vendors. In the Chota the comparsas (groups of dancers and musicians) will tour the main road of the town, to the delight of most neighbours. To the rhythm of the traditional mocha band, and la bomba, men and women of all ages participate in this fiesta. For some years now a group of policemen belonging to the community participates solemnly and they are the ones in charge of taking the virgin in a procession from the house of the custodian and back to the church the night before the celebration closes. But this same evening the virgin is dressed in police uniform. The reason for this is that many members of these communities decided to join the police force and in appreciation they join the custodians. On the following day the virgin is taken out in procession throughout the streets of town.
Afterwards, in an altar, adorned with colourful flowers, the image of the virgin is given a serenade, in which the rhythms of African ancestry are not absent.
Among the activities in the program are the popular bulls. On the last weekend, the Coangue bullring, gathers fans from the neighbouring towns of Carpuela, El Juncal, and Chalguayaco… Improvised bullfighters tried to tempt the bulls to earn the applause of the neighbours.

See more

Accessibility: Good access by land, this community borders the North Pan-American Highway that is in very good condition.


Accesibilidad: Buena por tierra, esta comunidad está al filo de la panamericana norte que está en buenas condiciones.  
See less

Other data of interest


Historical name

Celebration Virgen de las Nieves-Chota community

Founding Date

Around the 1950’s


Comunidad Chota, Cantón Ibarra, provincia Imbabura    


Intangible heritage expression


Access level


Current Use


Original use


Property kind