One of the most important and colorful religious celebrations in Peru, in honor of the patron saint of the city of Puno.
This festival is held every year in the city of Puno, which is located in southeastern Peru at an altitude of 3820 meters above sea level.
Considered as the Folkloric Capital of Peru and America; Puno is famous for its varied and impressive cultural manifestation, whose maximum expression is the feast of the Virgin of Candelaria, also called "Mamacha Candelaria", because she is the patron saint of the city, associated with the cult of the earth or "Pachamama" that symbolizes purity and fertility.
Two months before the main day, all the devotees prepare to live this profound experience of faith; the Sanctuary of the Virgin, streets and squares are filled with locals and strangers to contemplate the beauty of their dances and customs.
There are several important dates in this festivity, you can observe for example between January 24 and 31 the novenas or liturgical ceremonies in the sanctuary of the Virgin, mainly on February 1, the day of the eve, in which the entrance of candles and the entrance of "K'apos" (firewood that later is burned in the lectern of the sanctuary) gives place to the beginning of this great festivity.
The masses, processions and dances occupy the whole day of the central day which is February 2, seven days later begins the octave that ends with the Great Parade, holy mass, costumes of lights contest and the famous Cacharpari for the farewell of the Virgin of Candelaria.
Finally, after the octave follows the apotheosis or tribute festival on February 12, in which hundreds of groups show their respect to the Virgin with dances in a long procession through the city, accompanied by typical Andean music.
The following are the best-known stories about the origins of this religious holiday.
It is related that in times of the struggles between the patriot army against the viceroyalty, the city of Puno was besieged by a large group of rebels led by the Aymara leader Túpac Catari and Pedro Vilcapaza de Azángaro, who continued with the revolution started by Túpac Amaru II.
In the first months of 1781, the rebels tried to take the city, the reduced number of settlers defended themselves with a lot of courage, but their numerical inferiority did not give a fight before such a ferocious attack.
Desperate the settlers opted to take the virgin in procession, after imploring her protection during the whole night, the settlers observed astonished as the enraged besiegers abandoned the place.
The Virgin appeared to a native of the area who was taking care of his master's farm, which was located on the banks of a stream on the slopes of Huajsapata Hill.
She had the appearance of an elegant lady with a serene face, with a child in her arms. The virgin asked for permission to wash her son's clothes in the stream in exchange for taking care of the property until her return.
When the native returned with his master, who did not believe this story, they found the bust of the Virgin, dressed in white, with her clothes still wet.
Festivity that takes place every year between January 24 and February 13 in the city of Puno, located in southeastern Peru at 3820 meters above sea level; the central day of veneration is February 2.