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Watch: Parade of plumed Paraguayans celebrate their patron saint

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Watch: Parade of plumed Paraguayans celebrate their patron saint
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Catholics in Minas paraded through the town adorned in feathers in honour of St Solano, the patron saint of Paraguay, on Wednesday. All ages took part, with many costumes being handed down from generation to generation, adding feathers along the way.

Many of those who march are repaying a promise made to St Solano, often in return for an answered prayer.

"I began when I was very little as I had to pay for a promise my mother made for my health when I was 7-years-old. From then on I liked it and I kept on. Later they (people of Minas) elected me the leader," said celebration leader Pedro Balbuena.

Festival origins

According to local legend, St Francis Solano, the 17th-century monk was visited by a group of melodic birds on his deathbed, which sang to him. To celebrate their saint, residents of the town dress up as the birds that serenaded him some four hundred years ago.

The origins of the festival are also attributed to a different event, however. Other folktales say that the town was plagued by attacks from the indigenous Guarani people, who resisted the settlers' occupation of the land.

Allegedly, Spanish soldiers dressed the settlement in plumed costumes to frighten the superstitious Guarani tribe. Legend says their ploy worked and the indigenous people stopped their attacks on the settlers.