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Connecting People, Traditions & Generations

The Peruvian Festival of the Snow Star is held in May or June in the Sinkara Valley in the Cusco region of Peru. As described in Festival Mood, this festival is a religious and cultural gathering commemorating an event that occurred in 1780. The legend says that a young native herder named Mariano befriended a mestizo boy named Manuel. Afterwards, Mariano’s herd prospered and his father sent him to buy new clothes similar to Manuel’s. It turns out the cloth used for Manuel’s garments was the same as the bishop’s, and not available. Someone tried to catch Manuel to discover how this could be, and when they reached out to him, Manual transformed into a bush with Christ’s image hanging from the branches. Mariano thought his friend had been killed, and he died on the spot. The image of Christ then appeared on a rock at the peak of Apu Ausangate, which became known as the Lord of Qoyllur R’iti, or the Snow Star.

The pilgrimage up the remote mountain is celebrated with troupes of dancers and musicians but the main event is the ukukus who climb the glaciers of Mt. Choleuepunku. They take chunks of ice from the glacier, which supposedly has medicinal properties.

In addition to people from the surrounding area, visitors and believers from around the world attend the festival. Warm clothes and the ability to do some rugged hiking are required.