Qoyllority is one of the most intriguing festivals in the Andes. Although it is linked to the Catholic religion, its roots lie in the ancient Inca principle of uniting man with nature. In Quechua Qoyllority means “Snow Star” or “Luminous Snow”, much of the festival is based on growth, fertility, and the worship of ancient mountain spirits. Every June, just before the feast of Corpus Christi, more than 2,000 people gather in the small town of Qoyllority (at 4,700 meters above sea level), near the snow line of the Ausangate mountain.
You can enjoy traditional ceremonies and dances that are only practiced here, in this part of the Andes as processions with colorful dancers and “pabluchas” that congregate in the Chapel of the Lord of Qoyllority, the main church of the area in the small town of Sinakara – a unique and unforgettable experience!
Celebrations take place in the ancient Inca capital of Cusco with Corpus Christi, when the streets of all Cusco and the plaza are filled with processions and music.
The Lord of Qoyllority is a Christ, whose image is graphed on a rock. It is a Christian-Andean divinity that is worshiped in the Cusco region and that annually gathers a group of people to its location by the Vilcanota Mountain Range.
Lord of Qoyllority means translated into Spanish “Lord of the Shining Snow”, this man, according to the traditions of the people, would have appeared years ago as a child to another indigenous boy in the area. It is said that the baby Jesus came dressed as a poor boy and both little ones became friends. It is said that when the boy returned home the parents saw him and the boy dressed in rich clothing, and seeing the brilliance of the Child Jesus, they reported to the local priest who decided to go in search of him. Legend has it that the child Jesus fled being chased by the priest who failed to capture him because the child Jesus then became the image of the rock to which he is currently pilgrimage.
Although it is true, the image venerated in the rock responds to an invocation of Christ and that in this way the pilgrimage responds to a Christian rite, it is also true that this cult does not escape the beliefs of the Andean religions since there are many celebrations of this people which are present and that, as in many other celebrations to Catholic Virgins and Saints, hide a rite to the divinity of the Andes and that in this case is related to the fertility of the Pachamama (O la Madre Earth) along with the adoration of the Apus who are the hills (in this case the one that guards the image of the Christ) who are in charge of providing protection to the community.
The feast of Mr. de Ccoylloritti is one of the Catholic festivals fused with the Andean, located in the area of Sinacara that brings together endless pilgrims devoted to the miraculous image, entire populations of southern Peru, also called Nations that are organizations of comparsas and devotees, come from different places in the provinces of Cusco.
The Quyllurit’i festival gathers more than 10,000 pilgrims each year, many of them from rural communities in nearby areas.
The inhabitants of the Ocongate district (Quispicanchis), in the department of Cusco, perform a rite whose external symbol is the image of Christ, but its underlying object is the integration of man with nature, the people of this place are devotees of the Taytacha Qoyllur Rit’i (The Shining Snow Lord). This is an ancient religious custom only practiced by the inhabitants of the Andes. Every year, a few days before the Corpus Christi celebration, each small town or clan sends a delegation of colorful dancers and “pabluchas” to the Chapel of the Lord of Qoyllur ritty.
The pilgrimage to the sanctuary of Mr. de Ccoylloritti takes place every year in the month of May or June, the date is not exact due to the Andean calendar, but it is between these two months.
The ritual, associated with the fertility of the land and with the worship of the Apus (hills, tutelary gods), is part of one of the largest festivals of indigenous nations in America. The main ceremony is performed at the foot of the snowy Ausangate, the ritual consists of a pilgrimage of shepherds, merchants and curious people who meet at the Sinakara sanctuary in the town of Mawayany, at 4600 meters above sea level.
The party begins on the day of the Holy Trinity, when more than 10,000 pilgrims ascend to the limit of perpetual snow. Minimum temperatures of -4 ° C are reached. The way is accompanied by a procession, fireworks and the symbolic market of Las Alacitas (miniature handicrafts fair).
After five hours of walking, you reach the sanctuary of Mr. de Ccoylloritti, and immediately you have to make the salute of honor to the image of Christ Milagroson. In the afternoon, all the comparsas make their official entry into the United Nations. Almost 200 comparsas giving their official greeting that lasts almost all night, they accompany different dancers who symbolize various mythical characters. The “pablitos” or “ucucos” who are the intermediaries between the Lord of Qoylloriti and the men and those who maintain discipline during the liturgical acts, are people dressed as bears (black suit made of thick cloth and wool, with a chullo) that they make keep order and the Peace that the soldiers of the gentleman also call them.
The next day, the day of the serenade that begins with liturgical ceremonies in honor of the miraculous christ or also called peasant christ. In the afternoon the serenade begins with a dance show parading through the atrium and inside the sanctuary; at midnight a group of forts Queros, inhabitants of what is perhaps the purest Quechua community in Peru, disguised as pabluchas, leaves for the summits of the snow-capped mountain (6,362 masl) in search of the Snow Star that is locked in its entrails and also a place where the baptisms of the new dancers are made and the judgments by the guards where they punish those people who have made mistakes and who already find out at the foot of the snowy mountain since secret envelopes are sent up there. Back in their communities, these strong inhabitants carry large blocks of ice on their backs to symbolically irrigate their lands with the sacred water of Ausangate.
The central day after doing the ritual at sunrise, you descend from the snowy caravan led by Calvary towards the sanctuary; hours later the central mass takes place afterwards the procession of Mr. de Ccoyllorritti represented by Mr. de Tayancani, concludes with the farewell of each comparsa singing or (Watascama) to the Lord, finally they return to the town of Mahuayani, to then embark to their places of origin.
The end of the procession takes place in the ancient Inca capital of Cusco with the Corpus Christi processions, the streets and squares are full of people, music and color.
They are accompanied by different dancers (chauchos, qollas, pabluchas or ukukus) who symbolize various mythical characters. The ukukus (bears) are the watchmen of the Lord, as well as of Apus and apachetas (mounds of stones placed by pilgrims, as sins of expiation), and those who maintain discipline during liturgical acts. A group of forts Queros, inhabitants of what is perhaps the purest Quechua community in Peru, disguised as “pabluchas”, set off for the peaks of the snow-capped mountain (6,362 masl) in search of the Snow Star that is enclosed in their bowels. Back in their communities, these strong inhabitants carry large blocks of ice on their backs to symbolically irrigate their lands with the sacred water of Ausangate.
According to the belief, the Child Jesus, disguised as a shepherd boy, appeared to an indigenous boy, Marianito Mayta, and the two became friends. When the parents found them dressed in rich attire they notified the parish priest of the place, Pedro de Landa, who tried to capture him but without success, because a stone appeared in the place of the Child. Marianito died immediately and the image of the Lord of Qoyllur Rit’i was fixed on the rock.
The pilgrimage to the Lord of Qoyllur Riti takes place between the months of May and June, the date is movable.
The party begins on the day of the Holy Trinity, when more than 10,000 pilgrims ascend to the limit of perpetual snow. Minimum temperatures (-4 ° C) are reached. The way is accompanied by a procession, fireworks and the symbolic market of “las Alacitas” (miniature crafts fair).
The Inca Trail is considered the best trek in South America. It is a 43-kilometer route through ancient Inca trails to Machu Picchu. The duration of the tour is 4 days and 3 nights. Tourists have the opportunity to appreciate the scenic beauty with Inca archaeological sites including the Wonder of the World.
However, Machu Picchu is not the only archaeological site that you will see on the Inca Trail. On the tour you will also appreciate the ruins of Llactapata, the archaeological site of Runkurakay, Saycamarca, Phuyupatamarca and Wiñaywayna.