Commentary, Customs

The Festive Season Arrives

Ukukus and Dance in Cuzco (Photo: Eric Rayner)

June his here, the month that includes on feast after another.  As I write, it is Sunday and the Plaza de Armas of Cuzco is filled with people dressed in costume and dancing, while others are in dress uniforms and preparing to march around the square.  Sound and motion reign.

The month includes the pilgrimage of Qoyllurriti, the feast of Corpus Christi, the traditional continuation of the Inca feast of the sun, the days of Cuzco, the parade of allegorical floats by the School of Fine Arts, as well as the grand pageant of Inti Raymi.

During the month, almost everyone in the city will be drawn into the feast as a dancer, support, or as a marcher.  Most of the city’s institutions will march or dance through the Plaza to celebrate themselves and to give a saludo, a formal salute, greeting, to the City and State of Cuzco.

Cuzco Festival Month is Here (Photo: Eric Rayner)
Cuzco Festival Month is Here (Photo: Eric Rayner)

Sundays will be especially dramatic, when the weekly celebration of the nation’s flag, the Iza de la Bandera, the Raising of the Flag expands to include other events and many other marchers.  The ceremony becomes a grand parade and festival.

The month is filled with religious events involving the Church.  The Saints, and the Holy Eucharist will come out to process.  It is also a huge civic event.  The two domains, civic and Church, come together and separate as they create modern Cuzco.

While the dances give the appearance of tradition, increasingly they are a competition among institutions to win awards for the best.

Preparing for Qoyllur Riti (Photo: Eric Rayner)
Preparing for Qoyllur Riti (Photo: Eric Rayner)

They also involve a balance between tradition–though the dances have been removed from context and have become codified and fixed, and innovation in costume and steps.

Throughout the city,  youths and others are rehearsing steps and choreography to be able to dance well.  Costume makers and vendors are also working over time to meet the demand, as are musicians.

At the end of the month, Cuzco will be exhausted, but for now, as the feast begins, it is filled with energy and vitality.  Its history and culture are vital and visible, able to be sources of grand pride and civic-religious glory.

 

 

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