Paucartambo is a beautiful province located 109 kilometers from Cusco (at 9,284 f.a.s.l) built by King Charles III, around 1775.
Between July 15th and 18th, every year, this villa welcomes thousands of national and foreign visitors to celebrate the Festivity of the Virgin of Carmen, whose devotion dates back to colonial times.
This festivity is undoubtedly one of the oldest expressions of Andean religious syncretism.
The local population participates in the Catholic rituals in honor to who they call “Mamacha del Carmen” with typical dances, organized in 19 groups of dancers, where the “Qollas” coming from the highlands and the “Ch’unchus” coming from the eastern region, dispute the love of the “Mamacha del Carmen”, dancing over the colonial bridge.
In the meantime, the “Saqras” or demons do mischief and try to call the attention of the participants and distract them from the rituals.
The previous night to the central festival, the “Maqtas” and the “Qollachas”, taking advantage of the dark, give free rein to their mischief.
The fireworks and the ringing of bells mark the entrance of the dancers and the «Cera Apacuy», in the middle of the fires «Qonoy» that represent the purgatory. Soon, the musicians and the dancers offer a serenade to the “Mamacha del Carmen” throughout the night, interpreting among others, the Quechua poem «Punchauniykipi», which means «In your day».
The following morning (on July 16th, central day of the festival), there is a mass, where the visitors, the local population and the dancers congregate. The “Qollachas” and “Qhapaq Negros”, are the ones in charge to put order during the ritual, where beautiful Quechua sons are performed.
In the afternoon a great procession begins. “Mamacha del Carmen” and the dancers go through the main streets in town and the colonial bridge. In this place the Virgin imparts her blessing to the four parts of the Andean world.
After the procession, the population goes to the main square to attend the traditional competition between the “Qollas” and the “Antis”, on this occasion also participate the «Saq’ras» and «Wakas wakas.
On July 18th the traditional ritual called «Ocarikuy» is performed, where the new children and teenagers who will be the future dancers in honor to the Virgen, receive a blessing.
On July 19th, the “Mamacha del Carmen” returns to her altar. She gets her clothes changed, honor that corresponds to the «Carguyoc» who are the organizers of the whole Festivity.
In the midst of these celebrations, participants approach the opportunity to visit the “Mirador de Tres Cruces”, ascending towards Acjanaco pass (12,467 f.a.s.l.). This is a natural point view in the direction of the Amazon from where one of the most unique sunrises in the world can be seen, produced by the optical effects of the sun that seems to reverberate over the clouds that cover the tropical forest.
It is said that the experience is overwhelming and connects us with the Andean Cosmogony and the spirit of Father Inti and Pachamama or Mother Earth.
Paucartambo waits for you. Please join us in this festival.
Tocuyeros 556 Cuesta de San Blas, Cusco - Peru
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