celebration, fiestas, Travel

Festival of the Patron, Saint Sebastián

San Sebastian (Walter Coraza Morveli)

The first fiesta of the year takes place in the district of San Sebastian, celebrating the day of their patron saint who has the same name. Over three days, thousands of people gather to enjoy the procession, dance, music and food.

The district of San Sebastian is located south of the district of Cusco, 20 minutes from the main plaza of Cusco approximately. Of the different saints and virgins that go in procession during Corpus Christi, San Sebastian and San Jerónimo are the favorites and have the most devotees.It is for this reason that their fiesta is one of the largest and most attended.

January 18, 19 and 20 are the days that this festival is celebrated. All the organizations, including the authorities, the mayordomos, the fraternities and the comparsas (dance troupes) must meet to prepare the final details for the feast’s main day. They organize plans of the route, the list of dances, the bands of musicians, the food stalls, the location of the Firemen and the National Police of Peru, all strategically located for the fiesta to start.

It begins with the first Mass in the Church of San Sebastian. People are already there before 6 in the morning to be part of the whole celebration. The media broadcast the event live from itzs beginning. The brotherhoods in charge of carrying the Saint share their work and in sections change out bearers to continue with the procession. It should be noted that the people who carry the Patrón San Sebastián do it barefoot as a symbol of their devotion.

Behind San Sebastian comes a long line of devotees, costumed and performing traditional dances such as Coyacha Mestiza, Contradanza, Saqra, Chunchacha, Cachampa, Siqllas and many others. They are accompanied by bands of musicians with traditional instruments such as the quena and bombo. It’s a day full of color and expenditure of much energy.

The procession with all the comparsas that are presented seems endless. To give people a break there are the food stalls with traditional dishes of the region such as Chiriuchu, the famous chupe de peras—pear soup–that can only be obtained at this time, cuy al horno (baked guinea pig) and many more.

There are also drinks for this fiesta such as the chicha stands. They sell, besides fermented corn chicha, chicha morada, chicha de quinua, strawberry chicha, chicha de Kiwicha and, of course, beer. All the fiesta, musical groups and the pyrotechnic castles are ready to keep going through night until the next day.

The feast of San Sebastian is the first one; it starts the year. It is full of dances, music, food, joy and above all faith and devotion to its holy patron, San Sebastian.

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