Cusco Celebrating: The Festival-Months May and June
Experiencing Peru also means diving into the rich Peruvian culture. Especially during the months of May and June, there are many opportunities to not only observe the ancient celebrations but also to participate! Many important festivities in Peru take place during the months of May and June and travellers and foreign visitors are welcome to join! Below you find a short overview of the most important ones.
Festival Qoyllur Rit’i: The biggest indigenous pilgrimage in America
Qoyllur Rit’i ((Quechua quyllur star, rit’i snow, “star snow”) takes place during the month of May. This year the Star Snow Festival will be held from the 22-24th of May. Every year the festival occurs in the Sinakara Valley in the Cusco Region. For the indigenous population of the Andes, the festival is a celebration of the stars. It especially focuses on the onstellation of the Pleiades, which disappears from view in April and reappears in June. This constellation signifies a time of transition from old to new and the upcoming harvest and New Year, which begins on the Winter Solstice for the locals. The festival, from the pre-Columbian perspective, has been celebrated for hundreds if not thousands of years. The Quyllur Rit’i festival brings together a large number of peasants from more obscure regions to celebrate this important time of the year with traditional dances and music. The main event for the indigenous non-Christian population is the rising of the sun on Monday morning. Tens of thousands kneel down to the first rays of light as the sun rises above the horizon. Don´t miss this extraordinary festival! Dos Manos offers you the unique experience of a 2-day trek to Qoyllur Rit’i.
The Festival of Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi – in 2016 celebrated on May 25th and May 26th – is a yearly celebration, one of the most important ones of Peru since colonial times. On the streets of Cusco locals and visitors will have the chance to discover the tpyical Peruvian foods of each region, such as cuy (guinea pig) and chicha (mais beer). The main dish of Corpus Christi is, however, ‘chiriucchu’, from the Quechua words chiri (cold) and uchu (hot pepper). What is Chiriucchu? The dish contains chicken, guinea pig, corn, chorizo, and many other local ingredients.
There are many processions, the main one starting on the Plaza de Armas. This is a a big parade of Saints and Virgins and came from the different churches in Cusco, to greet the body of Christ exactly sixty days after Eastern Sunday , making a spectacular scene of 15 figures all together. Corpus Christi is a brilliant opportunity to get an idea of the rich culture and traditions of Peruvian people within the city of Cusco. It’s an amazing mixture of Spanish, colonial and authentic Peruvian culture.
The Festival of the Sun God “Inti Raymi”
Inti Raymi is probably one of the most popular Festivals of Latin America among travelers. According to the Inca religion, every individual on earth has an ancestor in the stars and other celestial bodies. This is why the sun played such an important role for the Incas. The Incan myth of origin starts with the birth of the first Inca as the offspring of the sun. He came to the world on the sunny island of “Isla del Sol” on Lake Titicaca. From there, he searched for suitable land and found it in the valley of Cusco, where he placed his golden staff into the ground and thus deemed it the “navel of the world,” where we find the Inca temple Korikancha (Temple of the Sun) today. Korikancha is therefore the absolute center of the world. On the sides of it, two golden lion statues were placed, which were aligned with the sun. The ceremony of Inti Raymi (Sun God) is celebrated every year in June and starts at Korikancha. The festival is a ceremonial worship of the sun, done in the same way as the Incas when they celebrated the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere. The Incas worshipped in the form of ceremonies, dances and offerings of last year´s harvests, asking the sun to protect and further good future harvests.
The celebration takes place on the 24th of June throughout Cusco and Sacsayhuaman. Experience this impressive part of ancient history with Dos Manos!
The Festival of the ancient bridge of Qeswachaka
The festival around this old amazing Inca bridge is truly impressive! Every year this 28m long and 1,20m wide bridge made out of rope is manufactured again and put into its original place of hanging during Incan times. The bridge is made entirely of grass and spans the Río Apurímac. This significant bridge allows several hundred residents of the surrounding area to cross the river. Every year, the women of the local villages weave the ropes for the Qeswachaka bridge from Ichu-grass (Jarava ichu) and the men tie the ropes to the bridge. All the local community participates in the rebuilding of this handwoven grass bridge and they celebrate its construction with typical dances, prayers to mother earth and a ceremonial crossing. The incredible weaving and construction techniques have passed from generation to generation since the bridge was first built by the Incas. Every year in June, tourists and local populations gather to watch the re-installment of the bridge, continuing a 500 year old tradition. Qeswachaka is considered the last known hanging bridge of the Incas and was declared a National Heritage Site by the UNESCO.
Experience the revival of this ancient and unique Inca tradition this year in June. If you are brave enough, you can even cross the bridge!