Festivity of Virgen de la Candelaria of Puno


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Inscribed in 2014 (9.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Ministry of Culture, 2013

The Festivity of Virgen de la Candelaria, celebrated each February in the city of Puno, includes activities of religious, festive and cultural character that draw on Catholic traditions and symbolic elements of the Andean worldview. The main festival commences at the beginning of the month with a daybreak mass, followed by an ancient purification ceremony. A liturgical act the next morning leads into a religious procession, as the image of the Virgin is carried aloft along the streets accompanied by traditional music and dancing. The festival continues with two contests that attract numerous groups gathering several thousand dancers and musicians from across the region. The main practitioners are rural and urban inhabitants of the Puno region who belong to the Quechua and Aymara ethnic groups. Many emigrants from Puno also return to participate, reinforcing a sense of cultural continuity. Three regional federations of practitioners cooperate to organize the festivity and preserve the traditional knowledge and skills associated with dance, music and mask-making. Rehearsals and crafts workshops are the places where these skills are passed on to younger generations. The festivity closes with a ceremony for the Virgin, a parade and farewell masses.