On 8th September, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Muskilda
(two kilometres from Ochagavía
) bears witness to primitive dances that have been performed for more than three hundred years. This delightful spot, which offers a spectacular view of the Irati Forest
, has provided the setting, year after year, for one of the most emblematic and at the same time most ethnographically important dances in Navarre.
Passed down from generation to generation, the dance consists of a paloteado (stick dance) by eight dancers and an unusual character who directs them, the Bobo. They wear delightful red and green harlequin-style costumes with stockings, military jackets and longjohns adorned with golden stripes. They also wear a conical cap similar to the other dancers, but in purple.
In the morning, the municipal authorities set off on the old road to the chapel, dressed in local costume and accompanied by the Council and the group of dancers. A formal Mass is held, followed by a procession around the church. The dancers then perform the ancestral dances
of Ochagavía in honour of the Virgin to the sound of bagpipes, and a 'changing of the guard' takes place.