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Corpus Christi

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Peruvian Culture maintains a diversity of festivals and traditions that make up the cultural heritage. Peruvian holidays throughout the year lend color and flavor to our day to day, with celebrations that, between vibrant dances and acts of deep religious devotion, fill Peruvian life with passion and happiness. 

There are 15 saints with processions each leaving their temple or church to make a visit to the Main Square of Cusco and then enter the Basilica of the Cathedral, where they will remain for 8 days until "The Octave" arrives, day in which the saints are taken out and taken to their temple or church of origin. 

The Corpus Christi catholic church celebration begins on Wednesday (one day before the procession or central day) with the departure of each saint from his temple of origin. Each one with a procession where the mayordomos or ¨Carguyoq¨ can be found, in some cases the mayor, the faithful who voluntarily decide to accompany their saint and accompanied by a band of musicians or ¨Q'aperos¨. After arriving at the Main Square, the statues of the saints are taken to the Cathedral and remain inside until the next day which is the procession. On Thursday all these people take their saint or virgin out of the Basilica of the Cathedral and the procession begins. The Main Square is full of people. 


Eat Guinea Pig 

It is the typical dish of these parties. Very difficult to find it at another time of the year. Throughout Cusco you can find the stalls with the striking whole cuys, some with their rocoto in the mouth. It is a very strong cold dish that brings: guinea pig, chicken, charki, homemade sausage, corn tortillas, cheese, corn and cooked fish egg. The portion costs 25 soles. 


Participate in a Catholic celebration with Inca roots 

Corpus Christi is a Catholic festival around the Eucharist that comes from medieval times and is celebrated in different ways in the world. In Cusco it is celebrated with the procession around the parade ground of the most holy sacrament with ten saints and five virgins who then remain in the cathedral for eight days. On the eighth day they return in procession to their respective churches. But what are the Inca roots? During the Inca period, prior to the Inti Raymi, the Incas took their sacred mummies (ancient sovereigns) to the main square of Cusco. The Spaniards replaced this custom with the images of saints and virgins. 


Enjoy the popular dances 

The day before the procession in the plaza de armas we saw several dances that accompany the entrance of the saints and virgins to the cathedral. 


Listen to religious hymns in Quechua

It was the first time I witnessed a Mass in Spanish and Quechua, not only in the priest's speech but also in the songs. Listening to them, although I did not understand the lyrics, the melody and the tone of voice are very melancholic. I think there are few opportunities that these songs can be heard and are part of our musical heritage. 


How to plan your Corpus Christi holiday

Corpus Christi does not have a fixed date in the year because it is celebrated 60 days after Resurrection Sunday (day that depends on the lunar calendar) and it is always a Thursday day. It usually falls in the month of June. In the web of EMUFEC (Municipal Company of Celebration of Cusco) they can check every year the dates of Corpus Christi and other festivities. 

In the afternoon of the previous day (Wednesday) to the main date (Thursday) do not miss the dances in the parade ground while the saints come in comparsas to enter the cathedral. 

For the main day, on the Thursday of the procession, early in the morning (before 9 am) you will be able to see the saints and virgins at the entrance of the cathedral. Good point to take pictures before all the faithful begin to arrive. During the procession I recommend you to reserve a table on the balconies of any restaurant in the Plaza de Armas located on the second floor. From there you have a good view of the route of all the images. 

In every procession I am always surprised by the devotion of the people to their saints, especially the veneration of their images. Personally, it is difficult for me to venerate any representation or have devotion towards something or someone. Maybe because I am agnostic and I was raised in an atheist family. In any case, I can not deny that the celebration of Corpus Christi seems to me a very striking, joyful and exciting celebration because of the fervor of the people.


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