It was a skulls' day out in Bolivia, when a local cult whose members keep the skulls of their close relatives at home held its annual festival - Dia de los natitas - or Day of the Skulls - in the capital city of La Paz.

The event took place at the city's General Cemetery on 8 November, and Bolivian people took the skulls of their departed loved ones to church to have them blessed. They believe that doing so will bring them good luck and fortune.

People of all ages reverently carried the skulls, encased in glass boxes or standing on decorative plates, to the cemetery chapel. Traditionally, the skulls were decorated with floral crowns and offerings such as cigarettes, alcohol and cocoa leaves were made. In an interesting contemporary twist, some skulls this year were decorated with sunglasses and caps.

The Dia de los natitas tradition has been part of Bolivian culture since pre-Hispanic times. According to ancient Andean lore,  Bolivians retain the skulls of their dead ancestors because they believe their souls reside in the skulls, which can protect the family and help fulfil their dreams.

This belief is so deeply rooted that some people who do not possess the skulls of their ancestors borrow unidentified skulls from mortuaries or hospitals specifically to take part. They believe that having the souls blessed will realise their most cherished desires.

According to historians, traditions in Bolivia's Andean region are greatly influenced by those of the ancient Incan Empire, of which Bolivia was once a part. Unsurprisingly, the dominant Catholic Church refuses to recognise the Day of the Skulls.

See below for a selection of photos from the Day of the Skulls celebration in La Paz.

Decorated skulls are seen during a Dia de los natitas ("Day of the Skulls") ceremony in the General Cemetery of La Paz, 8 November, 2012. Bolivians, who keep close relatives' skulls at home as a macabre talisman, flock to the cemetery chapel once a year to have the craniums blessed and to bring themselves good luck in the future.REUTERS/Gaston Brito
A man lights a cigarette to offer to a skull, during a Dia de los natitas ("Day of the Skulls") ceremony in the General Cemetery of La Paz, 8 November, 2012.REUTERS/Gaston Brito
A woman carries decorated skulls during a Dia de los natitas ceremony in the General Cemetery of La Paz.REUTERS/Gaston Brito
Decorated skulls are seen during a Dia de los natitas ceremony in the General Cemetery of La Paz.REUTERS/Gaston Brito
A woman carries a decorated skull during a Dia de los natitas ceremony in the General Cemetery of La Paz.REUTERS/Gaston Brito
People carry skulls during a Dia de los natitas ceremony in the General Cemetery of La Paz.REUTERS/Gaston Brito
People carry skulls during a Dia de los natitas ceremony in the General Cemetery of La Paz.REUTERS/Gaston Brito
Decorated skulls are seen during a Dia de los natitas ceremony in the General Cemetery of La Paz.REUTERS/Gaston Brito
A skull is seen during a Dia de los natitas ceremony in the General Cemetery of La Paz.REUTERS/Gaston Brito
A man prays to decorated skulls during a Dia de los natitas ceremony in the General Cemetery of La Paz.REUTERS/Gaston Brito