Now that it is January we begin to live once again the cycle of fiestas here in Cusco. Throughout the year we will celebrate various traditional feasts and everyone will experience much joy again. One of the celebrations that are already beginning is the anniversaries of the different neighborhoods we have in the city. Each one of them was founded on a certian day and month. Whenever that day comes around the people of the neighborhood organize a fiesta to recognize and honor that date.
Their fiestas receive much dedication and attention. You will see the people united since all the neighbors come together to put on the feast. Some days beforehand the neighborhood calls a general assembly in their communial spaces or rooms. There they discuss what they want to do on their anniversary. Everyone puts forth their own ideas from their own points of view and in this way the neighborhood comes to a shared understanding about how they will carry out the most important event in the life of their neighborhoods in which they have grown up and had many experiences.
Just a few days ago I had a chance to see how people celebrate their neighborhood anniversary. It was in José Escobedo Cornejo, a neighborhood on the slopes above the city’s center. Many people call it an invasion. The families that live their came together and invaded a space to set up homes.
On the anniversary of that invasion they started celebrating at 10 in the morning. They held their celebration on the sports field of the neighborhood. First they started music playing from speakers, especially songs which the people love. Then they held a football (soccer) championship; all the parents came to watch their sons play. It was intense.
At lunch time the women members of the community served up a delicious baked chicken for everyone. They spent hours together and then come night they all started drinking beer, chicha, and frutillada (a chicha with strawberries). A dance also began. Finally, after having spent a wonderful time everyone went home to rest in order to continue their normal activities the next day.
Many neighborhoods, especially the newer ones celebrate like this. Some of the older ones organize comparsas (dance troupes) and other activities. But people always come together on these anniversaries to party, eat, drink, and dance.