“Semana Santa”: Easter in Peru

Easter in peru

Easter in Peru

A variety of events and processions to mark Holy Week are underway across the country.  Friends and family gather for the occasion and attend church together while some also take the opportunity of having two days holiday to travel in Peru, with popular destinations filling up over the weekend.

The occasion is marked by a number of vivid festivals in the Andes that are the hallmark of the syncretism between native traditions and Catholicism.

A spectacular procession took place in Cusco on Holy Monday, El Señor de los Temblores, or “Lord of the Earthquakes” –  as dramatic and spiritual as its name suggests. The procession carries aloft a statue of Christ, the ‘Taytacha’. Blackened by the smoke of thousands of candles over the centuries, the statue is an impressive if somewhat eerie sight.

On the day, the singing of two groups of Quechua singers known as chaynas or jilgueros herald the preparation of the moving of the statue from the cathedral. The rich colour of the crimson ñukchu flower decorates the cross, symbolising the blood of Christ, though also significant plant in indigenous religion. Finally, flanked the singers and surrounded by crowds of people, the procession starts its winding journey through the streets of Cuzco to the Main Square, just as it did for the first time in the 17th century.

Significant processions also take place in the northern Andean town of Huaraz where week-long events culminate with and explosion of fireworks and the release of hundreds of birds; and also notably in the central Andean town of Tarma, where the streets are donned with archways and carpets of colourful flowers for which the region is renowned.

The most raucous events, however, and most famous for Peruvians, are held in Ayacucho. There are huge processions through the city’s streets and these continue from the Friday in Passion Week (before Palm Sunday) right through to Easter Sunday. The processions wind through the city streets from the city’s multiple churches to the Cathedral and bearing venerated figures of the main figures in the scriptural stories, particularly Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.

Happy Easter from the Aracari Team!

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