The Qoyllurit’i Pilgrimage

The Pilgrimage of Qoyllurit’i, originally created by the Inca people who resided in Peru, takes place in the district of Ocongate during the month of June, when the constellation of the Pleiades coincides with the constellation of Taurus.
The Inca, people of great astronomers, were used to organize their daily lives on the basis of the solar and lunar cycles, and had identified during this period the best time to harvest the crops, marking a period of great abundance and prosperity.
For this reason, every year the Inca people reunite in this valley to celebrate Viracocha (Sun God) with offers and prayers, as a good omen for the future harvest. After the colonization by the Spanish conquistadors in 1600, the Pilgrimage has been “contaminated” by the traditions and beliefs that are part of Christianity, creating a syncretism that unites the Andean religion and the Christian one, making Qoyllurit’i a unique event of its kind. The name Qoyllurit’i derives from a word in Quechua language meaning “Resplendent Star” or “Snow Star”. According to tradition, the Ukuku, or the protectors of the mountains and animals, must bring the “Snow Star” during the pilgrimage, symbolized by a piece of ice taken from the Sinakara Glacier, to the village of belonging as good omen for the future. The pilgrimage itself consists of an 8 km long procession that starts from the village of Mahuayani and then ends in the valley on the slopes of the Sinakara glacier, at the altitude of 4600m. This huge valley is surrounded by 4 very important mountains called “Apus” (Ausangate, Hunacauri, Qanyaqway and Colquepunku) which for the andean people, who believes in the “Pachamama” or the Mother Earth, are the reincarnation of sacred spirits. This famous tradition attracts more than 10000 pilgrims from every region of Peru and northern Bolivia every year, especially the Quechua and Aymara communities, direct descendants of the native Inca people. The pilgrimage is a gathering point for people from different parts of Peru, traditional dances are varied and very different. Each “Nacion” ( group of people from the same geographic area) has its dance, but also reproduces a common dance in honor of the Senor of Qoyllurit’i, where people whipes the ankles of their cronies in sign of redemption. As tradition desires, the Ukuku, loading on their shoulders the cross that represents them, will pass the night on the Sacred Glacier Sinakara (5000m) defying the harsh temperatures, going in search of the “snow Star” hidden between the cracks of the glacier. During the dawn of the following day, when the rays of the sun overlap the cross of Jesus Christ, fully represents the syncretism of this pilgrimage that fuses the Andean and Christian culture. The mysticism unleashed by this important religious pilgrimage makes it fascinating and unique in its kind. The authenticity of this festival fully reflects the pride of a population who don’t want to forget their ancestral traditions, catapulting the minds of those who live it on a temporal journey unparalleled to the discovery of a millenary culture.