The celebration of Virgen de la Candelaria is held every year in the city of Puno, which is located in the southeast of Peru at an altitude of 3820m.a.s.l.
Festival held every year between January 24 and February 13 in the city of Puno, located southeast of Peru at 3820 meters, the main day of worship is on February 2.
Considered folklore capital of Peru and America, Puno is famous for its varied and impressive cultural event, whose highest expression is the feast of the Virgin of Candelaria, also called "Mamacha Candelaria", it is the patron of the city, associated the worship of the earth or "Pachamama" that symbolizes purity and fertility.
Two months before the main day, all devotees are prepared to live this profound experience of faith, the Sanctuary of the Virgin, streets and squares are filled with locals and visitors to enjoy the beauty of their dances and customs.
There are several important dates in this festival, you can see for example between 24 and 31 January the ninth or liturgical ceremonies at the shrine of the Virgin, mainly on 1 February, the day before, in which the candles and "K'apos" enter the city (which later will be burned on the stand of the sanctuary) leads to the beginning of this great feast.
Masses, processions and dances happen all central day long which is February 2, seven days after starting, the eighth day ending starts with the Grand Parade, Mass, costumes contest and the famous“Cacharpari” farewell for the Virgin of Candelaria.
Finally, after the eighth day, the homage festival follows which is on 12 February, in which hundreds of groups show their respect for the Virgin with dances in a long procession through the town, accompanied by typical music from the Andes.
Then the best-known stories about the origins of this religious festival.
It is said that in times of struggles between colonial and patriot army, the city of Puno was besieged by a large group of rebels led by warlord Aymara Tupac Katari and Azángaro Vilcapaza Pedro, who continued with the revolution started by Tupac Amaru II.
In early 1781, the rebels tried to take the city, the small number of people defended themselves with great courage, but because they were fewer in individuals they couldn’t fight such ferocious attack.
Desperate villagers chose to take the Virgin in procession, after imploring her protection all night, villagers watched dumbfounded as the enraged assailants left the scene.
The Virgin appeared to a native of the area who looked after the village of his master, which was located on banks of a creek in the foothills of Mount Huajsapata.
She had the look of an elegant lady with calm face, with a child in her arms, the Virgin asked permission to wash her child's clothes in the creek in exchange for taking care of the property until his return.
When the native returned to his master, who did not believe this story, found the bust of the Virgin, dressed in white, with her clothes still wet.