Photos from the Peruvian Andes - Festival de Mama Ashu

Saturday, 31 August 2013

- I was lucky enough to be in Chacas, Peru, for the Fiesta Patronal de Mama Ashu, a weekend festival that has taken place since Spanish colonial rule.

- The population of Chacas, in the mountainous Ancash region of Peru, doubles in size and crowds of well-dressed revellers parade around the streets, as homeowners stand on their balconies and shower them with sweets and beer.

- Peruvians in modern-day Ancash proudly celebrate their liberaccion from the conquistadors and, at the same time, obediently follow the rites and rituals of Catholicism.

- Skillful riders bring their horses together to salute the crowds and dance the Marinera.

- The screams, cheers and maquinitas are backed by the sound of a cheerful Latin brass brand.

- Space is made in the Plaza de Armas for the horse riders to take part in the Carrera de Cinta.

- The names of the old Chacas families are hung from a rope, and the riders try to capture them with a piece of sharpened wood.

- Street vendors walk around peddling popcorn, nuts and multicoloured gelatinas.

- Bulls are beaten with sticks and then released into the plaza. "I heard that they also make a hole in their ass and then pour alcohol in it to piss them off," said a friend.

- Both professional and wannabe matadors are allowed entrance into the plaza to dodge the bulls. The bulls aren't killed afterwards - they're paraded around with ribbons on their heads as drunk campesinos stagger up to the beasts to offer them beer.

- A number of people were butted and gored - one seriously.

- The matadors stood and watched as one of their friends was knocked unconscious and then repeatedly smashed into the barrier by an angry bull. He was later airlifted to hospital in Lima.

- Along with the bulls, El Capitano (the man who had paid for and organised the festivities) was paraded around the square.

- The entire weekend was sound tracked by the intermittent explosion of rockets.

- The crowd stayed and danced until midnight, when the castillo was scheduled to be lit.

- Both refreshingly and alarmingly, there were no safety precautions or barriers, and a number of people were forced to put out little fires that sparked into life on their hats or shoulders.

- People, like the children pictured, didn't seem to be aware that they were standing underneath fireworks that were primed to go off once the flame had spread across the plaza.


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100% este pechito come papa said...

aaah, Ancash!
we need to meet sometime soon my friend, so much of what youve seen and felt I would like to hear... maybe we invite Rita as well? ;)
hasta pronto entonces..