Festivity of Cruz Velacuy in Cusco
Cruz Velacuy or Festivity of the Cross is one of the most important festivities for the catholic church in Cusco. During the “Velación de la Cruz” (Vigil of the Cross), it is a custom to carry crosses from peaks, hills, and shrines, with music, folk dances and food.
But, How did the Festivity of the Cross start in Cusco? According to history, it started during the colonial era. With the arrival of the Spaniards to Cusco, the conquistadores began to impose their Christian symbols throughout the city. They also eliminate those symbols related to the Inca religion. As a consequence, the typical Christian cross began appearing in more and more places of the Tahuantinsuyo capital.
It was in 1950, the year in which a major earthquake shook the Imperial City, that the people from Cusco made this day a much bigger celebration, adding a greater amount of crosses in various places of worship and sanctuaries.
Since that time, people anxiously expect for every May 3rd, the main day of the festivity, when thousands of parishioners who visit the city, worship the cross and pray in the vigils during the whole day. The festivity is also enlivened with typical music such as sacra or huaynos. Bands of musicians are hired and it finishes with impressive fireworks.
Main Day of the festivity:
The “Velación de la Cruz” (Vigil of the Cross) begins on May 2nd (on the eve of the main day). A campfire evening party takes place during the night of May 2nd. This event includes drinking aguardiente punch or pisco, eating hen’s or lamb’s broth, and an orchestra entertains the party with traditional music. Here is where the next Carguyoq is chosen, just like the previous year. On May 3rd, the main day of the event, the Cross is decorated with typical Andean fabrics and flowers from the region and it is taken in procession to the nearest church to hold a mass in its honor. At the end of the mass, the Cross is returned to the Carguyoq’s house where the faithful will enjoy a lunch and a variety of traditional activities, as it is the case of the Temple of Recoleta.
Here, there are three crosses each with their own “carguyoq” or butler , band, musicians, dancers, etc. The festivity can be extended to all night long, and best of all, there is plenty of food, typical Cusco dishes are served such as Lechón or Chiriuchu. As you can notice, Cusco is a great city, not only for its intriguing history, but also for its delicious gastronomy.
Places where Cruz Velacuy is celebrated in Cusco:
Among the most traditional crosses of Cusco that are celebrated with great effort are the following:
- Teteccacca crosses
- Santo Domingo
- The Cathedral
- Calle del Medio
- San Cristóbal
- San Blas and San Francisco
The famous kacharpari, or farewell party, takes place on May 4th with the presence of the new Carduyoqs, who will be in charge of next year’s festivity. It is on the fourth day that the cross is moved to its place of origin. On this day, people say goodbye to this festivity until next year.
The most devotional ones attend this event where they eat, dance and drink in front of the Cross to say goodbye.