In the town of Paucartambo, thousands of believers venerate the Virgin of Carmen, also called "Mamacha Carmen", patron saint of the mestizos, in great festivities. The meeting that begins these days takes place in the Main Square where the bands of musicians play their instruments, while richly dressed choirs sing in Quechua, starting ingenious choreographies that represent passages of the history of Peru.
During the day, the troupes dance through the narrow cobblestone streets of the town, preceded by their bands and orchestras. Everything is transformed into colorful costumes and musical chords. The pilgrims intermingle with the groups of dancers, mingling with each other in a magical celebration.
For five days there are groups of dancers, and on the main day the Virgin is carried in procession to bless the attendees and ward off demons. The "Sajras" dancers perform gymnastic and risky tests on the roofs of the houses, showing their costumes of Inca and colonial styles. At the end of the procession, a war against the demons takes place, from which the faithful emerge triumphant.
Finally everything concludes in the "kacharpari", or farewell party.
This festivity takes place every year in the colonial town of Paucartambo, at an altitude of 3,017 m.a.s.l. and 110 Km. from the city of Cusco, approximately 3 hours away.
There are several stories regarding the origin of these festivities, one of them tells that:
When the then ruler of Peru Don Pedro Fernandez de Castro Andrade, Count of Lemos, traveled through upper Peru, came through Puno to Cuzco, he was informed that in Pucara, a miracle had happened, as it appeared on a rock the effigy of the Virgin and when personally verified the Viceroy, was admired for its perfection, returning to the viceregal capital sent to Pucara a painter so that the miracle was transported on canvas, work that was unbeatable.
In this way the same Viceroy Conde de Lemos, ordered to sculpt two identical effigies of the same size and sent them to Pucará, to be venerated in this temple, the other in Puno.
Although several years had already passed, the image was not collected from the people of Puno and remained in Pucara. When this news reached the ears of Mrs. Maria Campos, a person of very comfortable economic condition who made her trips from Puno to Paucartambo, she took the necessary steps to bring the image to Paucartambo, since when her feast has been celebrated as solemnly as possible.
The Virgin Del Carmen has been declared patron saint of folkloric dances in 1972 and has been taken to the city of Cuzco to be decorated by Pope John Paul II in February 1985.
Between July 15 and 18 every year, thousands of devotees and visitors congregate to celebrate the Festivity of the Virgen del Carmen.
At 45 Km. from the town of Paucartambo is Tres Cruces or also called Balcony of the East, a spectacular natural viewpoint facing the Amazon, from where you can see one of the most impressive sunrises in the world as it has a view of the low jungle and also the Valley of Kosñipata, highlights the variety of colors and shapes caused by the sunrise. In this place occurs the so-called white ray, a phenomenon that occurs when the sun rises on the horizon and the clouds begin to move, while they are mixed with moisture, the light is distorted as if through a prism and shows us an effect of three suns, one of which jumps from one side to another. This natural phenomenon is observed between June and July.
Departures to the viewpoint are at 1:00 in the morning and the travel time is approximately 2 hours. The show starts at 4:30 until 6:00 am.
"Danzaq or "Tusuq", dance where those who are attributed with seductive abilities over the young fifteen-year-old girls, conqueror of married women and consoler of widows, are one of the best dressed groups for their colorful and elegant dancing. They cover their heads with chucos, wear short ponchos with ornaments and blue pants divided into stripes with the colors of the rainbow, is undoubtedly one of the most representative of the province of Paucartambo.
This dance represents the women of the jungle of Kosñipata, but it has a clear mestizo influence because of the costumes and the music that accompanies it. Their costumes consist of a crown of amazons, with their hair, a breastplate representing the Virgin, two "ch'uspas" that serve to carry their wayruros, a suitable dress in which they wear a chonta and the sinehon.
This dance, which in Spanish means "Rich Negro", recalls the servile and slave era of the black population, so they wear chains as a sign of submission. Nowadays, the blacks of Paucartambo are considered the slaves of the Virgin of Carmen, to whom they offer their beautiful and wonderful dance and their sentimental songs.
It is a representative dance of the inhabitants of the Qollasuyu, its origin dates back to colonial times when the Qollavian traders arrived in Paucartambo. The dance has its essence in faith to the "Mamacha del Carmen", and it is to whom during the party they sing, dance and cheer in the guerrilla. The dancers wear beautiful and decorated monteras, the waq'ollo and lliclla made of vicuña, the q'epi contains a stuffed vicuña..
This dance represents the warriors of the jungle of Qósñipata (district of the province of Paucartambo). In their clothing they use multicolored feathers called "ch'ucu", long hair, mesh mask, unku as a skirt, wire mesh mask, carrying a spear of "chonta". The band is typical (two whistles, drum and bass drum).
The cars that go to Paucartambo can be found in the Diagonal Angamos Avenue and have a cost of S/. 15.00 approximately. Also in the area you will find cabs and you can negotiate the cost of the fare.
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