Unique Two Day Tour: visit Qoyllur Riti Festival in Peru

21 May
Única Excursión de Dos días: Visita el Festival de Qoyllor Riti en Perú
Thursday May 21, 2015 - Posted by to Culture, Events and Festivals

Unique Two day Tour: Visit Qoyllur Riti Festival in Peru
Travelers in Peru have the opportunity to participate in a unique event that takes place from May 31 till June 2nd 2015. Come and climb to the shrine in the Ausangate Pass with approximately 10,000 local pilgrims to celebrate Qoyllur Rit’i! Ignore the low temperatures and the altitude (4700meters!) for this spiritual festivity with music, colorful costumes and dance. A group of Dos Manos Travel will be there. Join us!

Description Trip to Qoyllur Rit’i
On the first day of our Trip to Qoyllur Rit’i we travel by bus from Cusco to Mahuayani (a four hour drive), where the 8 kilometer hike or pilgrimage starts. While hiking up, you will see that the local people make their way up
with images of Jesus (and often, other icons) while they chant and drum as they forge higher on the glacier bowl. A few times during journey, we will stop; the Peruvians will kneel down and pray. All along the mountainside, there are stands which sell food and supplies.


At the top we join the festival while we walk around, eat the typical Peruvian food that are sold and we look at the beautifully dressed dancers and “pabluchas’, and attend several ceremonies. The sacred shrine where the event takes place consists of a wide, grassy plain on which hundreds of tents and tarps shelter slumbering climbers. The scenery is amazing as you see the snowy peaks and the glacial water streams and springs. A big church, the Capilla del Señor de Qoyllority, in the middle is the center of it all the Qoyllur Rit ‘i Festival..


What is Qoyllur Rit’i?
Qoyllur Rit’i can be translated as “star snow”. It is a spiritual and religious festival held annually in the Cusco Region of Peru. It takes place one week before the Christian festival of Corpus Christi and coincides with the full moon. Qoyllur Rit’I 2015 will take place the first days of June.
As is often the case in Peru, the festival is a mix between Catholic beliefs brought by the Spanish and the traditional beliefs of the Incas from Peru.
According to the church the story of this festival began in 1780 with the story of a herder boy who befriended a mestizo boy. The story ends when the boys get in trouble and thinking that someone has harmed his friend the herder died and was buried under a rock. An image of Christ that appeared on this rock became known as Lord of Qoyllur Rit’i.


However according to the indigenous people, this festival has been celebrated for hundreds if not thousands of years it is a celebration of the stars and in particular the Pleiades. The Pleiades disappears from view in April and reappears in June. For the Incas this signifies a change from old to new. It is also the time leading up to the harvest and is the time of the winter solstice.
The main part of the festival consists of amazing traditional dances and processions around the shrine of Qoyllur Rit’i. People also climb the glacier to bring back blocks of ice which are thought to have healing properties. For the local Peruvians the main part of the celebration is the sunrise. In the morning, many people will kneel down to the first rays of light.


This high mountain shrine is difficult to reach so not often visited except for special occasions, one being the festival before Corpus Christi and the other on the 14th of September. The June festival is now, little by little, becoming more well-known as a result of anthropological studies and travelers participating in the event. However, it is still a unique experience for travelers, not be compared with some other more tourist events such as for example Inti Raymi in June.
For those who will be around in September… The festival on the 14th of September is by comparison less well known.

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