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Black Venezuelans mark emancipation of ancestors with colourful festival

People parade marking Holy Innocents Day which commemorates King Herod's infanticide of baby boys in Bethlehem after the birth of Jesus, in Caucagua, Venezuela   -  
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Matias Delacroix/Copyright 2021 The AP. All rights reserved


Revellers dressed in colourful outfits celebrated the Feast of the Holy Innocents across Venezuela this week.

In Caucagua, the religious day has taken on a special meaning and has turned into a celebration of the liberation of slaves.

The festival was born over 200 years ago when plantation owners gave their enslaved workers the day off to mark the Feast of the Holy Innocents.

The Feast marks the massacre of the children of Israel on orders from King Herod during his quest to find baby Jesus.

The workers, over time, started using the day off to party, dressing up as their masters and their wives to poke fun at them.

Nowadays, women play a key part in the Holy Innocents' Bandos and Parrandas, taking on the role of leaders as a symbol of empowerment.

They wear jackets resembling the garments worn by plantation owners, demonstrating that they are now in control.

The celebration attracts participants of all ages, who gather to honour the traditions inherited from their enslaved ancestors.

UNESCO earlier this month recognized the Holy Innocents' Bandos and Parrandas of Caucagua as World Heritage.

"For us, this is something that fills us with infinite joy. We are showing the world that there is an ancestral culture here," said local Parranda leader Alicia Lucía Mata.

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