Customs

Sharing and the Mojo Chacuy in Cusco

Working in Ayni (Walter Coraza Morveli)

From times past in the highlands of Peru people work together mutually. They share products and other needs that they might have. Ayni is one of the traditional forms of mutual assistance as is the harvesting together of products that require a lot of labor. For this latter you invite all your friends and neighbors to be able to carry out the job without having to pay with money. Instead you pay with reciprocity.

This is not strange because when you build a house or just the first floor all of your friends and neighbors come to help and share, in this way, in the advance of a single family.

Another tradition that is like this, ayni, but without trading work, is the mojo chacuy. Here you give seeds and hope that other people will plant those seeds and later you will see what they have accomplished.

This tradition of giving seeds is common when people marry in rural Cusco. For example, not far from Cusco you find the town of Calca where a couple of my friends got married. After the mass we went to where they were doing their reception and I found a big surprise. The man who was directing the gathering announced the tradition of Mojo Chacuy. It consisted in putting money on a platter in order to help the young couple. With what was gathered they could begin their life together as a couple.

The godparents of aras, family members, and friends all put in their grain of sand so the couple could have as much money as possible to begin their life together. Those who came to the marriage party were not well off but with lots of love they gave up some of their savings to help.

This tradition is attractive. Who in the city of Cuzco carries out a marriage and asks for money in this way. It would be misunderstood by those in attendance. They would think, “why should i go, give a gift and money”. Nevertheless, this is a tradition in which people came up, happy to see the new family and leave their support for them to have a good beginning.

It is beautiful to see how people help freely without being obliged to do so and, in this way, maintain the beautiful culture and traditions of our Peru.

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