The pilgrimage to the sanctuary of the Lord of Ccoylloritti takes place every year in the month of May or June.
The inhabitants of the district of Ocongate (Quispicanchis), of the department of Cusco, perform a rite whose external symbol is the image of Christ, but its object is the integration of man with nature. Every year, a few days before the celebration of Corpus Christi, each small town or clan sends a delegation of colorful dancers and “pabluchas” (characters representing the Andean bear), to the Chapel of the Lord of Qoyllur ritty.
The ritual, associated with the fertility of the land and the worship of the Apus (hills, guardian gods), is part of one of the celebrations of the largest indigenous nations in America. The main ceremony is held at the foot of the snowy Ausangate, which consists of a pilgrimage of pastors, merchants and believers who gather at the Sinakara sanctuary in the town of Mawayany, which is located at a height of 4600 meters above the level of the sea.
According to the belief, the Infant Jesus, disguised as a shepherd boy, appeared to an indigenous child, Marianito Mayta, and they both became friends. When the parents found them dressed in rich attire, they notified the parish priest of the place, Pedro de Landa, who tried to capture him, but without success, because in the place of the Child a stone appeared. Marianito died immediately and the image of the Lord of Qoyllur Rit’i was fixed on the rock.
The Quyllurit’i festival brings together more than 10,000 pilgrims every year, many of them from rural communities in nearby areas.
Despite the imposition of the Catholic religion, the Andean people did not forget their religious traditions, keeping them almost hidden. Nature, for them, had its own spiritual representations, such as the Apu, (spirit of the hill), the Pachamama, (mother nature) and the Inti, the Sun as the most important entity. The party begins on Holy Trinity Day, when more than 10,000 pilgrims ascend to the limit of perpetual snow.
After five hours of walking (you can rent horses), you arrive at the sanctuary, then the greeting of honor is made to the image of the miraculous Christ. In the afternoon, all the groups make their official entrance, you can see more than 200 groups, giving their greetings, lasts almost all night, accompanied by different dancers that symbolize various mythical characters. The “pablitos” or “ucucos” are those who maintain discipline during liturgical acts, they are people dressed as a bear (black suit made of thick cloth and wool, with a chullo), they are also called the soldiers of the Lord.
The next day, it begins with liturgical ceremonies in honor of Christ, in the afternoon the serenade begins with a dance show, at midnight a group of Queros, (settlers of the purest Quechua community of Peru), disguised as pabluchas, leave for the snowy peaks (6,362 meters above sea level) in search of the Snow Star. Back to their communities, these strong settlers carry large blocks of ice on their backs to symbolically irrigate their lands with the sacred water of the Apu Ausangate (highest mountain in Cusco).
The central day after doing the ritual at sunrise they get off the snowy caravan, hours later the central mass is carried out with which it concludes with the farewell of each comparsa with songs to the Lord; finally they return to the town of Mahuayani, to return to their places of origin.
The end of the pilgrimage takes place in the ancient Inca capital of Cusco with the processions of Corpus Christi.