The Qoyllurit’i, originally created by the Inca people who resided in Peru, takes place in the Ocongate District during the month of June, when the constellation of the Pleiades coincides with the constellation of Taurus.
The Inca, people of great astronomers, were used to organize their daily lives on the basis of the solar and lunar cycles, and had identified during this period the best time to harvest the crops, making a period of great abundance and prosperity.
For this reason, every year the Inca people reunite in this valley to celebrate Viracocha (Sun God) with offers and prayers, as a good omen for the future harvest. After the colonization by the Spanish conquistadores in 1600, the pilgrimage has been “contaminated” by traditions and beliefs belonging to Christianity, creating a syncretism that unites the Andean religion and the Christian one, making Qoyllurit’i a unique event of its kind.
The name Qoyllurit’i derives from a Quechua word meaning “Resplendent Star” or “Snow Star”. According to tradition, the Ukukus, or protector of the mountains and animals, must bring the “Snow Star” (represented by a piece of ice taken from the Sinakara Glacier) to their village of belonging as good omen for the future.
The pilgrimage itself consist in 8km long procession that starts from the village of Mahuayani until arrive to the valley of Sinakara Glacier located at 4600 meters of altitude.
This valley is surrounded by four holy mountains called “Apus” (Ausangate, Hunacauri, Qanyaqway and Colquepunku) that for Andean people who believe in the “Pachamama” or Mother Earth, are the reincarnation of sacred spirits.
This famous tradition attracts more than 10000 pilgrims from every region of Peru and northern Bolivia every year, especially among Quechua and Aymara communities.
During five days of celebrations, the majority of the people dance and sing in honor of the Senor of Qoyllurit’i wearing typical dresses according to their geographical area of belonging.
At the last night of the pilgrimage the Ukukus will spend the night on the icy slopes of Sinakara Glacier (5000m) defying the harsh temperatures while they search the “Snow Star”. The next morning at the first light of the day the Ukukus will descent gloriously from the glacier, celebrating the success of their mission.
The authenticity of this folkloristic event fully reflects the pride of a population who don’t want to forget their roots, keeping alive the traditions bequeathed by their ancestors.