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Pentecostal Festival in Cusco and Sacred Valley of the Incas

Pentecostal Festival in Cusco and Sacred Valley of the Incas

Each year Catholics celebrated the Holy Spirit came down to give courage and wisdom to Jesus Crist apostles for they can profess all the knowledge that their master learned. Now this celebrations is commemorated in whole world and Cusco it does not the exception.

Corpus Christi: Saints and Virgins on Parade

Corpus Christi: Saints and Virgins on Parade

Of Mummies and Saints

Saints on ParadeIn the time of the Incan Empire, festivals were carried out in the presence of the richly attired and adorned mummies of all the supreme Incas and rulers of Tawantinsuyu, as well as other venerated ancestors.  Now, when once Cusco celebrated the end of the agricultural year with feasting and the procession mummies, the city celebrates Corpus Christi with a procession of Saints and Virgins.  For Cusco, Corpus Christi is the year´s most important (and lavish) religious festival.

On the day before the main event, this Wednesday, music coming from the Cathedral will call the saints.  The patron saints from 15 parish districts arrive at the Main Square´s Cathedral dressed in this year´s best finery- new clothes, new jewelry and ornamentation- along with their own band and parishioners.  The elaborately costumed saints and virgins make their way to the Cathedral to greet “Corpus Christi”- the body of Christ.  In the early hours of the morning, with the streets already overflowing with the faithful and the curious you´ll see a strange sight- Saint Sebastian (5km from the Cathedral) and Saint Geronimo (10km from the Cathedral) racing to reach the Cathedral first.  They´ll spend the night in the Cathedral.  On Thursday the 23rd it´s time for the main event as all the saints prepare to process together.  Altars adorned with mirrors, banners, flowers, tree branches, religious images, etc, await them.

SaintCarrying the Saint

After the Archbishop´s Te-Deum on Thursday morning, the Golden Sun of Custody which holds the Host will begin its procession in a silver carriage.  (The Golden Custody is an 18th century 26.7kg/1.2m pure gold massif decorated with 331 pearls, 263 diamonds, 221 green emeralds, 89 amethysts, 62 rubies, 43 topazes, 17 diamonds, 5 sapphires and an agate.)  After the Procession of the Holy Sacrament, the Saints and Virgins process together before entering the Cathedral where they´ll stay until the Octava a week later.  Then they´ll process again while devotees dance the Mestiza Qoyacha and Capaq Qoya.  You´ll see various costumed characters frolicking about as well: chauchos, qollas, pabluchas, and ukukus among them.  Throughout the day you´ll also hear Peru´s largest church bell, the 16th century María Angola.  Finally, it´ll be time for the Saints and Virgins to return to their home parishes.  Dancers and musicians will accompany the saints as they´ll process along the same streets where Incan mummies paraded in the time of the Inca Empire.

A Room With a View…

View of the Plaza from CorregidorAs luck would have it, Corpus Christi this year falls on the same day as the Serenade to Cusco and a day before the Incan Festival of the Sun, Inti Raymi.  Between these and the city´s anniversary, and the upcoming centennial of Machu Picchu, the streets of Cusco have become a lively spectacle of costumes and dancers.  It´s definitely the best time to visit Cusco.  The downside, however, is that navigating through the city has become difficult due to the revelers.  With thousands of people crowding the Main Square in the next several days, it´s a good idea to find a way to view the festivities without fighting for a spot.  At Pirwa´s Posada del Corregidor B&B, you can sit in the restaurant´s balcony facing the Main Square and relax without missing the fun.  You´ll also avoid the other main problem associated with the festivities: price hikes- as our policy is to keep prices the same all throughout the year, regardless of the season.

You have to try…

ChiriuchuWednesday night families serve 12 traditional dishes, but on the main event Thursday one dish is the star: Chiriuchu (Cold Chili Pepper).  This traditional Corpus Christi meal is a cold dish of guinea pig, chicken, ch´arki, sausages, cheese, toasted corn kernels, tortillas, bread, etc.  Merchants set up stands around the Main Square, knowing that as soon as the saints are safely tucked away it´s time for food and chicha (fermented corn drink) or beer.