Customs, Food Culture, Traditional Food

Dance, Food, and Color, Carnival 2016 in Cusco

Sharing a Glass of Beer During the Carnival feast in Cuzco (Photo: Walter Coraza Moreli)

Sharing a Glass of Beer During the Carnival feast in Cuzco (Photo: Walter Coraza Moreli)

Carnaval explodes every year in color, flavor, and music when the calendar rolls around. One week later it also wells up in the cacharpari, the completion and sending off of Carnival. It is a feast where young and old have fun all together. I do not just say this because of the inevitable play with water or foam. These are found all over the world. I say it for the music, the bright colors, and the food.

After celebrating compadres and comadres (godfathers and godmothers) in the two weeks prior to Carnival, people get out their best clothes to participate in a yunsada which is put up every year (the tree and the feast) by the new mayordomos, the sponsors, who were named last year.

The music begins and the melody is one that arrives even at the ears of our ancestors. It invites them to be present in this celebration. From far away you can see people dresses up in brightly colored clothes and hats coming toward you as couples.
All gather now and the banquet is served without worrying about who has come. There is puchero, also called timpu. It is served and fills stomachs in order to give them energy so the people can break out vibrantly when the party begins.

Dancing Around the Yunza (Wayra)
Dancing Around the Yunza (Wayra)

The mayordomo, along with his partner, begins to place bright colors, streamers, around the necks of people and paint their cheeks with colors. At the same time they sharpen the hatchet so it can cut down the tree and in this way choose the new mayor doom for the upcoming year.

The tree is a bit intimidating with all the present tied high in it and the eyes of everyone on it. The couples are ready for the feast to begin.

Love begins to play among all the youths. They meet each other while playing with water and colored powders. On the microphone they announce the beginning of the feast and music sound: “Let’s dance in Carnival until colored water explodes.”

This way, all the feast in Cusco centers on the yunsadas and throughout the whole week between today and the cacharpari you can enjoy our traditional puchero and play with water.

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