Calendar activities

Candelmas

This is celebrated annually from February 7 – 12, and taking center stage is the Witite dance. The dancers dress in traditional outfits: skirts, masks, and plenty of streamers. They are accompanied by wifala music played by a live band of sixty to eighty woodwind musicians. The organizers are called “Capitanes” (captains), and they provide food and drink freely for the entire five day period. It is also known as the festival of love.

Carnival

It is a moveable festival, celebrated from February to March each year. It is a dancing festival, and the dancers wear multicolored outfits and are covered in streamers. They form large parades and dance to satirical songs played live on stringed instruments. The most popular expressions are the “pagos” (offerings) to the earth, in which a shaman, through music played on a quena and special rituals, offers incense burners decorated with strange objects, like llama fetuses, to the pachamama (mother earth). These are buried in hopes of prosperity.

Holy Week

The dates change every year, either in March or April, and is celebrated forty days after Carnival. It is a profound act of religious reverence. The people, in mass procession through the streets, bear litters with icons and images of the Virgin Mary and the crucified Christ that are loaded with censers and burning candles. The decorations are usually of silver, the canopies made from floral weaves, scented with basil leaves. The faithful in procession sing sacred songs, the church bells ring out, and live bands play dirges. Organizers call themselves “Estandartes”.

Virgin of Carmel

This feast day is annually celebrated from July 15 – 18. It is the feast of the patron saint, and the people enjoy spectacles like bull fights, with fierce animals bred to be killed in the ring and brought from far off Puno and Cajamarca. The bullfighters are dressed to the hilt with their sequined outfits. For four days, massive dance groups take to the streets, dressed in multicolored outfits, dancing to music played on woodwinds. At night, the people light fireworks and compete in dance offs. Organizers call themselves “Estandartes”.

Planting festival

This festival takes place every year in August and September since the people normally plant their crops on the agricultural terraces in July and September. They give offerings to the earth and bless the new corn seeds. The plowing is done with teams of oxen. Afterwards, the people return to the villages singing choruses of “hailis”.

Harvest festival

This takes place from May to July every year. The town of Cabanaconde is the top corn producer in the area, a tradition passed down from generation to generation. Corn is the staple food and a symbol of wealth. Once the harvest is brought in, it is blessed and stored. It is not just used for food, but also as a means of bartering for other goods.

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