Customs, Cuzco Neighborhoods

Happy Day of Compadres

Distributing Food to All People
Distributing Food to All the People
Distributing Food to All People

Yesterday Cuzco celebrated the Day of the Compadres. This important pre-Carnival celebration gathered people together throughout the city to celebrate the ties that bind one family to another with kinship-like bonds, as well as the agreements that make Cuzco’s annual cycle of feasts happen, the jurqados (sometimes spelled jurkados)–those who have accepted the burden of sponsoring a feast or contributing to a sponsorship. Around the church of Recoleta, it was particularly intense as we show in the following photoessay.

The idea of compadres — people joined because one person or couple agrees to sponsor another person’s child in baptism, the first haircut, marriage or some other ritual — is one that makes Cuzco live and breathe as a society. There is no easy word in English for this tie that makes adults kin, through the common interest in a child. The best we can say is “co-godparent-hood” though that is awkward and rough. This just is not a custom in the English speaking world. Catholics still have godsons and goddaughters, but the tie between the parents and the godparents just is not as important to society.

Enjoying the Compadres Day with Cerveza and Chicha
Enjoying the Compadres Day with Bear and Chicha

Similarly, there is no word to express the idea of jurqar. We can only write sentences to tell its meaning, which is to bind someone through ritual to carry the often heavy burden of pulling together the resources to sponsor a feast or a portion of it. People have been known to spend a year’s or several year’s incomes in the process. But this act of receiving the jurqa and hence bound as a jurqado is critically important in today’s Cuzco. It keeps its system of feasts going.

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Banners by the Cross

There is change. Slowly other ways of doing celebration–such as through schools and businesses–are developing. Someday the jurqa may not be so important. But for now it is a major act in Cuzco and, above all, in a person’s life.

Happy with all
Happy with all

But, for now, on this day all the compadres who have been jurqado to carry out a cargo during the year gather at the Church of Recoleta to celebrate with much joy and noise.

Celebrating with the Band Music
Celebrating with the Band Music

All the jurqas from each neighborhood, along with their people, gather in the square in front of the temple. In order to enjoy this day of celebration each neighborhood brings its own band and its own food, beer, and other drinks. Everyone dances and shares with the cargo holders (jurqas) from the other neighborhoods.

Dancing
Dancing

Recoleta is just one of the places where this important day is celebrated in a big fashion. From early in the morning people gather, bringing their banners for the saints to which they correspond. In this way, not only is this a feast of compadres and jurqas but also of saints.

Aaaaaah
Aaaaaah

On the bill above the temple of Recoleta is found the Lord of Tetecaca. In the afternoon all the people gathered in Recoleta make their way, bands playing and they dancing, carrying their standards and banners to salute and pay homage to this huaca, or sacred place, as it is known in Cusco.

In San Blas, by the church, they also carry out a large feast this day. The whole neighborhood is at feast, they say.

Playing Chicha Music
Playing Chicha Music

This is the kind of large feast that draws many people. They celebrate with the jurqas and compadres, as well as drinking, dancing, and sharing the event with each other.

Very Fun
Very Fun

 

Staging for Conpadres Day
Staging for Compadres Day
Happy Day of Compadres
Happy Day of Compadres
Sharing Chicha
Sharing Chicha
Cover with Carnival Foam
Cover with Carnival Foam
Sharing Food
Sharing Food
The Band
The Band

 

 

 

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