Virgen del Carmen - Paucartambo
This festival is held every year in the colonial town of Paucartambo, at a altitude of 3,017 m and 110 km from the city of Cusco approximately 4 hours.
Between July 15 and July 18 every year, thousands of devotees and visitors gather to celebrate the Feast of the Virgen del Carmen.
In Paucartambo thousands of believers venerate great feasts of the Virgin of Carmen, also called "Mamacha Carmen", patron of the mestizos. The gathering that starts this festival is done in the main square where bands of musicians play their instruments while richly dressed choirs sing in Quechua, kicking choreography witty passages depicting the history of Peru.
During the day walking troupes dancing in the narrow cobbled streets of the town, preceded by bands and orchestras go down the streets. Everything is transformed into colorful costumes and musical chords. Pilgrims are interspersed with dancing crews, blending each other in a magical celebration.
For five days, groups of dancers perform, the main day the Virgin is conducted in procession to bless those present in Paucartambo and scare off demons. The dancers' Sajras " perform gymnastic and risky tests on the roofs of houses, showing their outfits Inca and colonial styles. At the end of the procession there is a war against the demons, which the faithful emerge triumphant.
Finally everything ends in "kacharpari" or farewell party.
There are several stories about the origin of this holiday, one that:
When the then ruler of Peru Pedro Fernandez de Castro Andrade, Count of Lemos, traveled to Upper Peru, came from Puno to Cuzco, he was told that in Pucara, a miracle happened because a rock appeared in the likeness of the Virgin and when he personally found it, the Viceroy was admired for its perfection. When he returned to the viceregal capital, he sent a painter to Pucara for the miracle to be transported on canvas, work that was unbeatable.
Thus the Viceroy Count of Lemos himself ordered to carve identical effigies and the same size as the destinations were Pucara and Puni, to be worshiped in the temple.
Although several years had passed, the image was not picked up by people from Puno, staying in Pucara. When Doña Maria Campos, a woman with good economic status who used to travel from Puno to Paucartambo, heard the news, she made her efforts to bring the image to Paucartambo from which date the feast is celebrated with the solemnity possible.
La Virgen Del Carmen was declared patron of folk dances in 1972 and it has been brought to the city of Cuzco to be honored by Pope John Paul II in February 1985.
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