The great pilgrimage to Qoyllur Rit’i, the Shining Snow, begins today with its official send off in Cuzco’s Plaza de Armas. The song that accompanies pilgrims throughout their journey to the highlands and back fills the air in many different instrumentations.
All around the plaza bright colored dancers are gathered, each troupe under a banner which proclaims their affiliation to one or another of the different nations that make the trek. The dancers are either part of confraternities with demanding activities or they are members of communities that make the pilgrimage.
The communities also hold demanding requirements for service as part of membership.
Although the morning began cold and wet, the sun has broken through filling people with hope for a good pilgrimage. Already the pilgrimage has begun for people from places like Paruro who have come to Cuzco to dance and be part of the official start and the send off.
Since mid morning troupes have been entering the plaza and lining up, though their bands do not stop, as they wait their turn to process in front of the cathedral and continue on their way which ultimately will lead them up the mountain to the glacier and the chapel of the Lord of Qoyllur Rit’i.
This is one of the most important ritual and religious events in the city of Cuzco and is tied to the great feast of Corpus Christi, whose preparations are also already underway.