Cusco – Festival of Qoyllur Ritti

Cusco – Festival of Qoyllur Ritti


Arrives months of May and June and is time to celebrate the most important festivals in Peru, festivals such as the Inti Raymi or the feast of St. Juan in the Peruvian Jungle are celebrated with great excitement and there are thousands of people who enjoy these festivals.

The city of Cusco has important festivals throughout the year; however, it is during the months of May and June is when is the most spectacular and attract thousands of national and foreign tourists.

One of them is the festival of Qoyllur Ritti or “Star of the Snow” which is celebrated between the months of May and June (the date varies each year) and consists of the influx of hundreds of people between dancers and faithful devotees to the Sanctuary of Qoyllur Ritti to venerate the image of Christ reflected in a rock.

However, this festival is really a mixture between the Andean and catholic as it is venerated to Christ but also to the Apu Sinaq’ara which is one of the most important snow-capped peaks of the Peruvian Andes.Through this festival participants will perform ceremonies in honor of the Pachamama or Mother Earth, the Sun and the Apu Ausangate.

The festival lasts approximately 1 week from the Trinity Sunday, the date on which hundreds of groups from various parts of the Cusco called “Nations” begin their journey to the shrine of Qoyllur Ritti located to the south of the city of Cusco at 4 hours by car aprxoimadamente more 2 hours of walking.

The nations are 12 in total, which will remain until Wednesday, performing several activities in the temple and the snow mountain.

The central day is Tuesday in which the members of the nations make his ascent to the mountain to perform the ceremonies in honor of the Sun, the Pachamama to then descend with the first rays of the sun to the temple and then be placed in front of it so that the parish priest can celebrate the Mass of the “Central Day”, in which it is blessed to all attendees and the objects they purchase at the fair of the alasitas.

Fair of the alasitas: this tradition brought from the highlands, consists in the purchase of thumbnails that represent the desire of the buyer such as: homes, cars, businesses, titles, etc.These are blessed or “challados” for wanting to become a reality and are able to obtain.

Once the Mass over, begins with the procession of 24 hours which consists in carrying the image of Lords. of Tayancani and Mahuayani who came from their places of origin days before to participate in ths festival.

Usually the visitors return to Cusco the same day because they do not want to miss the “Corpus Christi” which takes place the next day in the city of Cusco.

However members of the oldest “Nations” made the procession of 24 hours and head toward the town of Mahuayani by another route which is longer, but that according to the traditions symbolizes the importance of this festival.

The Wednesday morning participants make a stop to be able to carry out the “Greeting to the Sun” is performed to receive the first rays of the sun, all participants between dancers, stewards and people who decided to participate are in a straight line and kneel before the sunrise. The festival has its end when the images of Lord of Tayancaniabd Mauhayani arrive at their respective temples.This year the central day will be held on Tuesday 29th May and if you want to know this festival are some tips:

Buses depart from the Huayrupota Avenue in Cusco at different times due to high demand, prices vary from the S/.25.00 S/.45.00 soles depending on the type of service (bus or private car).

These will take you to the village of Mahuayani, we recommend you to buy what is necessary in this village. From here are 8 km walk to the Sanctuary of Qoyllur Ritti (2 and a half hours walk approximately), the path is relatively easy as it is flat with a few hills but you must take into account the height as you will come to the 4,800 meters above sea level at the highest point, we recommend acclimate in Cusco minimun one day, take warm clothing and some leaves or coca candy to counteract the Soroche or altitude sickness.

If you want to stay to sleep must take into account that there are places for camping and that you must respect, since this festival has been declared as “Heritage of Humanity” and need the support of all to keep order during the festival, it is worth mentioning that this festival will not be able to buy alcoholic beverages since they are prohibited.

If you wish to book your departure to this Festival, this year the Pirwa Hostel  through its agency Pirwa Travel will be taking out groups with transportation and guide specialized in hiking and trekking.

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