Holy week in Christianity and the liturgical year, is the previous one towards Easter, beginning on Palm Sunday and concluding on Resurrection Sunday.
The imperial city, Cusco, is no stranger to this festivity since it is one of the most important traditions and faith, characteristics that the people of the city of Cusco carry in their minds and persons. Unlike other commemorations, Holy Week in Cusco has Holy Monday as its central day because on that date the Sworn Patron of Cusco, the “Lord of the Tremors”, goes out in procession. The Archbishop of the city offers the Communion Mass in the Cathedral, starting at 8 am. Masses are celebrated every hour until noon.
Holy Week in Cusco is celebrated beteen the second fortnight of March to the first week of April, the date is movable.
On Sunday, April 10, 2022, the festival begins with "Palm Sunday", where the entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem is commemorated, the families of Cusco attend the different parishes of the city carrying palm leaves and crosses woven from the same plant, those that are blessed in the Eucharistic celebrations of the different temples of the city; to later take them to the houses and place them behind the doors, as a symbol of protection for the home.
Holy week in Cusco has as its central day Holy Monday (April 11, 2022), since on this date the sworn Patron of Cusco (Lord of the Tremors) goes out in procession. The Catholic-Andean syncretism of the Cusco population is revealed. The procession of the Taytacha (denomination in the Quechua language that means "Daddy") gathers around 80 thousand devotees waiting for the blessing of the Sacred Image.
The Lord of the Tremors
The Archaeological Capital of America and former main head of the once-powerful Tahuantinsuyo Empire celebrates Holy Week by worshiping the image of the Lord of the Tremors or Taytacha Temblores, in Quechua. According to some sources, the history of this Christ with gaunt features and an overwhelming appearance dates back to when Emperor Carlos V sent the effigy to Cusco, made especially for the Indians, copying their rough features. The Spaniards sought to consolidate the Conquest made by the sword and impose their worship.
But it was on May 31, 1650, when the flame of faith of the people of Cusco for the Lord of the Tremors was further lit. That afternoon, an earthquake measuring 8 on the Richter scale hit the city, demolishing many houses and temples.
To placate the wrath of the Lord, the ecclesiastical authority ordered the Immaculate Virgin and a Christ who was not well known in the Cathedral of Cusco to go out in procession. At around four in the afternoon, the two images began the procession touring the perimeter of the Plaza de Armas.
People with fear, terror, and despair decided to follow the two images. It was then at that moment that the disastrous earthquake was calmed thanks to the image of the previously known Lord of the Good Death. Since then he was nominated 'Lord of the Tremors'. Since that time, the litters of this mestizo Christ come out in procession every Holy Monday, followed by a multitude of parishioners who accompany him with humble fervor.
In the windows of the houses, where the effigy passes, refined pieces of velvety tapestries with gold fringes, bright fabrics, and carpets are placed, which families reserve especially for this occasion. Meanwhile, the Camaretos or small mortars, firecrackers, and rockets shake the atmosphere with their noise, making the chants and prayers of the crowd almost inaudible.
The lord of the tremors
The Procession of the Lord of the Tremors was instituted on March 31, 1650, to commemorate the earthquake, but in 1971, the date was moved to Holy Monday. The procession of the Jurado Patron of Cusco begins at 2:00 p.m. touring the perimeter of the Plaza de Armas until heading to Plateros Street and arriving at the Temple of Santa Teresa, where the shroud of the sacred image is changed for a new one. Once this process is completed, the Taytacha goes to the Plaza San Francisco, where he performs the first blessing to the people of Cusco.
After this, the sacred image continues its journey to the Minor Basilica of La Merced, where the shroud is changed again. At night, the patron Jurado goes to the Cathedral of Cusco, where he performs his last blessing to the entire population of Cusco, filling everyone with an emotional and telluric moment full of faith, hope, and forgiveness.
The singers of Taytacha (Chayñas del Cusco) are women singers who sing during and after the procession of the Lord of the Tremors, these women have a fervor and magic in their voices, typical of the Andes and Cusco singing with their acute and delicate singing voices in Quechua.
Inti Raymi The sun's festival
Inti Raymi is a Quechua word that means ‘Fiesta del Sol’. Every winter solstice (between June 20 and 23) the Inca performed a ritual in honor of the sun, the highest divinity in the Tahuantinsuyo.
A red flower of intense color, crimson flower, is a flower native to the Quechua region that grows in height only on the days of Holy Week and especially on Holy Monday. It is said that the resin of this flower is what caused the dark color of the Patron of Cusco.
Red Flowers "Ñucchu"
Holy Week continues with “Holy Thursday”. Thursday, April 14, 2022, is the day when the last supper is remembered throughout the Christian community. In the Basilica of the Cathedral, the Archbishop washes the feet of twelve elders, in memory of the washing of the feet of Jesus to his apostles, while families gather to enjoy the "twelve dishes" remembering the "Last Supper" (This activity may vary for Holy Thursday or Holy Friday according to the preference of each family). Here you can see the mixture of Andean and Western cuisine, while in the Plaza San Francisco and the Central Market you can buy sweets such as crispy maicillos, bizcochuelos, suspiros, empanadas, and other delicacies of traditional Cusco pastries. At night, families walk the streets and squares of the Historic Center on the route of the "Seven Temples" that remember the falls of Jesus on his way to Calvary.
Traditional "Foot washing"
On Holy Friday, Friday, April 15, 2022, as in Ayacucho, the meeting of the litters of Christ in the Holy Sepulcher and the Virgin of Sorrows takes place. The way of the cross is carried out from Plaza San Francisco to the Pope's Cross located in Sacsayhuamán, this event is organized by the Convent of San Francisco.
That day, unlike what happens in other places, is not one of abstinence in Cusco. The custom is to taste twelve different typical dishes (variable date for Holy Thursday or Holy Friday) that include various soups and stews either based on dried fish, wheat, and olluco, to delicious desserts such as apple, corn or corn candies.
Medicinal herbs fair where the entire population of Cusco goes out to buy herbs, cross-shaped thorns, amulets, etc. These are placed on the doors of Cusco homes to protect themselves from evil.
Traditional Fair "Hampirantikuy".
After fasting until noon, the Cusco families taste the 12 dishes, in commemoration of the 12 apostles and the Last Supper. The most common dishes are:
12 traditional dishes from Cusco.
At around 5 in the afternoon, the image of the Virgen Dolorosa and Holy Sepulchre leave in procession from the Basilica Menor de la Merced, remembering the death of Jesus Christ. This procession is accompanied by thousands of faithful followed by their faith.
Holy Week comes to an end on Easter Sunday. Sunday, April 17, 2022, the day comes when Jesus Christ rises from the dead, for this, the Cusco families go to the parishes to participate in the homilies.
After the procession and the celebration of the mass, through the main streets, you can perceive the exquisite aroma of the delicacies that delight locals and strangers, such as the tasty chicken broth, the empanadas, the sweet white corn, the tamales, and the cakes. Thus, in a pagan way, the Andean Holy Week closes in the thousand-year-old imperial city of Cusco.
Empanadas, "sighs", and maicillos.
Bread cake, donuts, biscuits.