Dancing through the streets of Cusco the fifteen saints and virgins from nearby churches are paraded to the beat of the enchanting Peruvian music, all in celebration of Corpus Christi. It’s a vibrant beat and thousands of strong, well dressed men ‘dance’ the patron saints from their church to the main cathedral.
The festival of Corpus Christi has been celebrated all over Peru for years, but the fiesta is most impressive in Cusco, and a yet another high point of our trip to South America.
At night the locals gather together, for an overnight vigil, where typical dishes such as chiriuchu (spicy guinea pig), beer, chicha and cornbread are served.
At dawn the procession sets off again around the main square, bearing the images of five virgins clad in richly embroidered tunics, plus the images of four saints mounted on a beautiful white horse.
Then the saints enter the Cathedral to receive homage, after which representatives from various communities of Cusco meet in the main square to discuss local affairs.
The Plaza de Armas is where we are watching this grand parade. Just up the steps by the main cathedral we think we have a great spot to watch.
We soon realise as the procession turns the corner we are in danger of being swamped and run over.
The effort required to turn and walk up steps with these massive floats perched on men’s shoulders meant that often they got off balance as we see in this video.
A couple of times we dash off running, wondering if the giant effigy would come crashing down. Yep that’s me at the end telling Des to ‘quick get out of the way’.
To our surprise they were very much in control and fortunately there are no calamities. Periodically pausing to rest most of the men are puffing, sweating and red in the face, reminder it’s thin air in Cusco!
Through much pomp, music and ceremony we mingle for 2 days with the crowds of peruvian people sharing their wonderful festival.
They are friendly and welcoming toward us and most love to have their photos taken.
Locals selling sun hats, ice creams, snacks, posing for photos, anything to make a little extra money. A little girl of about 8 years catches my eye, right away she sits down beside me. She has hand knitted finger puppets of llamas for sale. Her little sister looks on as the keen young business woman offers me better price for quantity!
I was impressed with her skills, of course I made a purchase. No sooner had she got the money for these and she was keen to sell me some more.
Tucked away in my suitcase are my finger puppets along with the memory of music and dancing ringing gently in my ears as I remember the gaiety and song of my time in Cusco.
If you’re visiting Peru I highly recommend you time your trip coincide with this festival inJune each year, it’s an opportunity to taste and hear the true traditional Peruvian culture.