Bolivians celebrated on Sunday an ancient tradition rooted in indigenous practices where people adorn and honour skulls, called "natitas", which they believe bring them good fortune and protection.

The natitas spend most of the year indoors, but are traditionally decorated and paraded to the cemetery a week after All Saints Day.

APTOPIX Bolivia Skull Festival

Although some natitas have been handed down through generations, many are from unnamed, abandoned graves. They are cared for and decorated by faithful who use them as amulets believing they serve as protection. (Juan Karita/AP)

"This tradition occurs on Nov. 8 because it is the Day of the Souls, the Day of the Skulls. We celebrate [the dead]

 because they give us many miracles. They take care of us, they protect us, the people who are devoted to them," said Leticia Plaza, who joined the celebration of the skulls.

Friends and family adorn the skulls with hats and flowers. They give them food and even cigarettes during the festivities. Even the skulls of unidentified deceased take part in the party, said participant Patricia Llave.

"They are the forgotten souls, they are the souls that don't have flowers. Every Nov. 8, we remove them from their tomb so that we can be with them and share this celebration with them," she said.

As the afternoon wore on, participants danced to honour the skulls. "We dance with devotion and gratitude for all they give us. They have fulfilled many desires. And that's why we honour them," said Rosmery Aquino.

Bolivia Skull Festival

A woman brings her decorated human skull or 'natitas' to the Cementerio General chapel in La Paz, Bolivia, on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. (Juan Karita/Associated Press)

The tradition is believed to have its roots in the Urus Chipaya custom of disinterring the corpses of loved ones at the one year anniversary of their death.

The Roman Catholic Church does not endorse the practice, but when the cemetery's parish refused to open its doors to Day of the Skull believers 12 years ago, they threw stones at the church and broke all the windows. Now, the parish is open to believers for a blessing ceremony.

Bolivia Skull Festival

A man carries decorated human skulls or "natitas" outside the Cementerio General chapel. The tradition marks the end of the Catholic All Saints holiday, but is not recognized by the Catholic church. (Juan Karita/Associated Press)

The natitas tradition, a fusion of Catholic and indigenous beliefs, is traditionally practiced by the country's indigenous groups.

The traditions and cultures of the Aymara, Quechua and other groups remain strong in Bolivia, where indigenous people are a majority in a country set in the heart of South America.

Bolivia Skull Festival

A woman looks at her decorated natitas as she waits to be greeted by the priest inside the Cementerio General chapel, during the Natitas Festival celebrations. (Juan Karita/Associated Press)