When it comes to religious preferences, Cuzco, and subsequently Peru, in general, is very unique.
In the bustling streets of Cuzco, preferences tend to be related to Roman Catholicism. Uniquely enough, however, these beliefs sometimes can become intermingled with the indigenous Peruvian culture. Most notably, a blend of Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) and the Virgin Mary become intertwined to reflect centuries of heritage and custom.
Incan culture has continued to flourish as well, even to this day. During Holy Week though, Catholicism understandably is placed on a pedestal, but that doesn’t mean the past is put to the side.
On the last Monday of March, the culmination of time and belief manifest itself into the procession of Señor de Los Temblores.
The Origins of the Procession
In the year 1650, a massive earthquake struck Cuzco causing devastation on an equally massive scale. During the chaos, a dark-skinned statue of Jesus was paraded around the city in defense of everything that they held dear to their hearts. Shortly after, the trembling of the earthquake ceased, to the astonishment of all. Place yourself in the shoes of the inhabitants of Cuzco at the time, how would an event such as this impact you? Most of us would be mystified, to say the least. To this day, this event has been immortalized, and has been celebrated ever since!
What happens during the procession?
The procession is as magnificent as it sounds. Quechua singers known as chaynas or jilgueros inaugurate the ceremony before the statue is removed from the Cuzco Cathedral. Crowds of people from all walks of life gather around to witness the event that has been taking place since the 17th century. Once the statue is removed, you will notice a beautiful collection of the crimson ñukchu flowers decorate the cross, symbolizing the blood of Christ.
The statue itself has been stained by soot and grime from the burning of thousands of candles over the centuries, adding even more history to the spectacle. Once the statue begins its procession, it is followed by singers and the massive crowd of people that have come to observe and pay their respects. The winding streets of Cuzco, as well as the Plaza de Armas, hold this event for all to see!
Why should you be interested?
Not only is this a Catholic event, but ancient undertones help set the mood for the day as well. The Quechua singers create a rich atmosphere of Incan culture, along with the imagery of the statue being carried throughout the streets. In Incan times, the citizens used to parade the mummies of their chieftains, high priests, and rulers in the same way. The dominating part of the festival though, is the offering of the ñukchu flower, as they are used as gifts for the ancient gods Kon and Wiracocha.
Continuing this trend for centuries has carried with it ancient wisdom, and it’s easy for someone to be swept up into the past. This is an event you most certainly won’t want to miss if you’re a big history and religion buff. Witness it for yourself and share your stories or pictures with us!