Qoyllur Rit'i

Qoyllur Rit'i or Snow Star Festival is a religious festival held annually in honor of the Lord of Qoyllur Rit'i (Spanish: SeƱor de Qoyllur Rit'i) at the Sinakara Valley in the Cusco Region of Peru. According to local traditions, the celebration originated in 1780, when a young native herder called Mariano Mayta befriended a mestizo boy, called Manuel on Mount Colquepunku. Thanks to Manuel, Mariano's herd prospered so his father sent him to buy clothes for the two boys in Cusco. Mariano took a sample of Manuel's clothes but could not find anything similar because that kind of cloth was only worn by the archbishop. The latter sent a party to investigate but when they tried to grab Manuel, he became a bush with an image of Christ hanging from it. Thinking they had harmed his friend, Mariano died on the spot and was buried under a rock. An image of Christ painted over this boulder became known as the Lord of Qoyllur Rit'i which means Lord of Star Snow.

The Qoyllur Rit'i festival attracts a large number of peasants from the surrounding regions divided in two moieties. Paucartambo groups Quechuas from the agricultural regions to the northwest of the sanctuary while Quispicanchis includes Aymaras from the pastoral regions to the southeast. Both moieties make an annual pilgrimage to the feast bringing large troupes of dancers and musicians in four main styles: ch'unchu, qolla, ukuku and machula. Besides peasant pilgrims, attendants include middle class Peruvians and foreign tourists. The festival takes place in late May or early June, one week before the Christian feast of Corpus Christi. It consists of a number of processions and dances in and around the Lord of Qoyllur Rit'i shrine. The main event is carried out by ukukus who climb glaciers over Mount Colquepunku to bring back crosses and blocks of ice which are said to be medicinal.

Read more about Qoyllur Rit'i:  Origins, Pilgrims, Festival