How the ancient Inca Traditions remain in Peru´s Society Today
The sacramental celebration of Corpus Christi, of the body and blood of Christ, is a spiritual ceremony held in the beautiful city of Cusco. Attending this procession, one feels within a force of contrasts, being witness to this significant Christian celebration in the setting of Cusco, the center of Inca heritage in Peru. Enjoy the colorful parade of the Christian saints while experiencing the locals displaying their colorful costumes, moving to traditional Andean music.
The festival of Corpus Christi is created from both the indigenous roots of Peru and its Spanish influences brought by the conquistadores. Before the arrival of the Spaniards, the Inca had their own way of worshiping and paying tribute to their holy figures – on special occasions, the mummies of ancestors were carried out in large procession and celebrated in their ancient rituals. With the arrival of the Spanish, the mummies were replaced by the Holy Virgin and saints. In this way, the population adapted a Christian tradition, which is still celebrated today.
Being a festival during the time that anticipates the Incan tradition Inti Raymi (celebration of the Sun God on June 24), the adapted Christian ceremony in Cusco carries a strong meaning in its cultural synthesis of the Hispanic and the Andes cultures and makes it part of the typical mixture of the Andes regions of Peru.
Corpus Christi is performed annually sixty days after Easter Sunday. Its exact date shifts every year but the festivities always begin on the Wednesday of the respective week with Thursday being the center day of the celebrations.
During these days one can experience the historic alleys and charming Plazas of Cusco filled with celebrating people in colorful costumes inviting us to take part in the festivities.
The main part of the celebrations consists in the procession of the representations of 15 saints and virgins being carried out in a holy march before they are taken into the cathedral. The figures are to be carried out again after seven days (el octavo) to participate in the procession one more time and afterwards to be returned to their places, where they will remain for the rest of the year.
Around the center day of Corpus Christi on Thursday, the Cusqueños serve 12 different dishes especially prepared for the celebrations. These traditional dishes include the famous chiriuchu, beer, chicha and bread. Every year the Corpus Christi festival brings together many faithful believers as well as sightseers and travelers in Peru to revive a unique center-piece of Andean tradition mixed with Christian believes.
The feast of Corpus Christi in Cuzco was declared cultural heritage of the Peruvian nation on August 8, 2004. The declaration states that the festival is one of the most important expressions of Peruvian culture and contributes to the national identity.