Yarqa Aspiy: An Inca Event to Clean The Ditches or Inca Canals

Peru is full of many celebrations and activities in this month of August because it is the month of Pachamama (Mother Earth). Among all these festivities we have the Yarqa Aspiy that is celebrated in Ayacucho. This event originated in the time of the Incas in order to clean the ditches or Inca canals. Today it has become one of the most popular activities in the Ayacucho region and the Ministry of Culture declared it Cultural Heritage of the Nation.

Yarqa Aspiy consists of collective work cleaning ditches and aqueducts whose purpose reflects how important it is to maintain the flow of water efficiently and sustainably. In addition to cleaning, other ritual activities are also performed, such as aqakuy or chicha preparation. This preparation is accompanied by different slow songs that refer to the cleaning of the ditches called harawi.

The day before the big task the organizers visit the different authorities with food, accompanied by music performed with harps and violins, and followed by different dancers called negrillos. After a long night of dancing and music, the next day begins with a task in the Maray River where a floodgate is located that lets the water flow to the city.

Before starting the work, an offering is made to the nearby Apus (mountain beings) of coca in order to give thanks to the earth and ask for a better year. Then the community members are divided into different groups to begin cleaning and removing stones. After this begins with the hapinakuy or dance of the scissors.

After completing all these activities, the celebration proceeds to Pampahuasi to taste the mesamastay or communal lunch for which different weavings are extended out for the authorities and the different settlers.

The dances that accompany this activity are the most significant features of this as they give a special value to the cleaning of these ditches. These dance s are part of all the activity. In fact, the central moment is the competition of scissors dance.

Peru has an incomparable wealth in each of its departments, from beautiful landscapes to a rich culture that is being handed down from generation to generation and that makes this country one of the most visited in the world.

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