Peru’s Qoyllur Rit’i Festival Changes As the Glaciers Disappear

Glacier Gods [Source: Carolyn Kormann]

The annual Qoyllur Rit’i festival is an annual event that takes place in the Sinakara Valley in the Peruvian Andes mountains to honor the Lord of Qoyllur Rit’i. Like many such events, it is an ancient indigenous festival that was morphed into a Catholic festival in the process of colonization.

The tradition is for participants to hike up the mountain and dance and sing for three days. Ritual battle was banned by the Catholic Church but the tradition of ukukus, trickster figures, climbing up the mountain and retrieving large blocks of ice has been banned due to concerns about the disappearing glaciers. The disappearance of the glaciers will destroy the way of life of many Peruvian people and so the festival has taken on a new sense of urgency.

Taytacha Qoyllur Rit’i [Source: Angel Romero]

Barbara Fraser describes the festival and discusses the issue of the disappearing glaciers. It’s well worth reading to better understand a truly unique event in which dance is considered an integral part of one’s religious life.

Online Photo Exhibit: Qoyllur Rit’i: In Search of the Lord of the Snow Star

All World Dance: Videos