Today is Palm Sunday in Cuzco, the beginning of Holy Week. Though a city with deep currents of Inca culture, Cuzco is also a very Catholic city. The two traditions are like one of the handwoven belts sold by countless women on the Plaza de Armas; they are closely interwoven and form ever intriguing designs.
Though a Holy Day, today a gastronomic festival is also being held in a suburban city, with its own ancient tradition, San Jeronimo. Beginning today, the Festival del Sabor Andino, will be held on Sundays, to promote the gastronomic culture of the south end of the Cuzco Valley for tourists. People can go to its main plaza, a short taxi ride from downtown Cuzco, to try varied dishes such as chiriuchu, capchi de setas, and cuy al horno.
In Cuzco proper, today the city marks the entrance of Christ into Jerusalem with an early morning mass, a procession, a portrayal of Christ’s entry, and folkloric dances. The plaza will fill with people. In addition vendors will sell the customary ramos (branches) of palm fronds and rosemary in the form of a cross. Other street vendors will sell sheaves of wheat and small crosses with bills and grains of corn on them.
People’s devotion conjoins the desire for spiritual dedication with the need for material protection and progress as they buy these emblems and carry them home. Food was an important form of offering in the Inca past and it continues to have holy significance, even in today’s celebration.