The reestablishment of the festival is a reconnection by the people of Saraguro with their heritage, according to locals. The community was created more than 500 years ago when the Incas relocated thousands of residents of what today is Bolivia to the area, 90 miles south of Cuenca, historians say. “Many of our traditions were lost in the process, as well as during Spanish colonization, and today we are recovering them,” says Carlos Cartuche, director of Intercultural Center in Saraguro.
Pawkar Raymi, which pays tribute to earth, is held this year March 19, 20 and 21. Besides Saraguro, it is celebrated in indigenous communities of Peru and Bolivia.
Pawkar Raymi is highlighted by the passing of responsibility for protecting the land from one leader, or Capac, to another. The ritual includes a cold cleansing bath for the new leader followed by a procession into town and three days of celebration. Events include cultural and sporting events, and an ancestral reunion between younger and older generations.
Cuenca Explorers is offering a three-day tour of Pawkar Raymi in Saraguro. In addition to participating in the celebration and meeting the local people, the tour will include hikes and shopping for indigenous crafts. The tour departs Cuenca’s terminal terrestre at mid-morning, Friday, March 20 and returns Sunday, March 22. Cost for two hotel nights and bus is estimated to be $96 per person. The tour has five spaces available.
Cuenca Explorers is a non-profit group of like-minded, budget travelers interested in exploring off-the-beaten-path locations close to Cuenca.
For more information about the tour and to sign up, contact Terry Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org.