Qoyllur Rit’I Festival

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Ausangate – one of the main Apu (mountain spirits) is the deity of Cuzco. During the Incan Empire the Indians worshipped and celebrated this god. After the Spanish colonisation this festival became an amalgamation of the Indian worship of mountain spirits, and the celebration of the apparition of Christ on the mountainside.

Койюр Рити (Qoyllur Rit’i)

 Qoyllur Rit’i is celebrated at the end of May – beginning of June and continues for several days. Qoyllur Rit’i in Quechua means “Snow Star”. This festival is held at Sinakara, at the foot of Mount Ausangate. The festival attracts more than 10 thousand pilgrims every year from surrounding villages and from all other parts of the country, even from the neighbouring countries.  The arrangements start with raucous celebrations near the chapel.  People in national costumes dance traditional dances. However, these are not the main events of Qoyllur Rit’i.
Groups of Quero indigenous people climb Ausangate Mountain, at 6362m, in search of the Snow Star which is reputedly buried within the mountain. The foreigners are not allowed to participate in this climb, according to the Indians, this may offend Apu Ausangate. For several days the pilgrims walk to the top of the mountain: through the dangerous paths and freezing passages, gasping for breath in the thin air, and overcoming numerous difficulties. The accidents are quite frequent – not everybody returns back (in this case, the Indians say that Apu Ausangate received its sacrifice). All of this is done for one purpose; to bring a block of ice to the Chapel. They people believe that the ice brings luck, has medical effects, and that the lands irrigated with this holy water will be very fertile.