The lord of Qoyllorit’i – History of the lord in the snow
Some history from Cusco's religions.
Cusco - Peru
Nicole Maxdeo
May 4, 2024

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The Lord of Qoyllorit’i is celebrated every year in May and is a very ancient tradition dating back to the time when snowy mountains still existed. This story comes from our ancestors or grandparents, the Incas, and they knew many things, which is why people now go to the Lord of Qoyllorit’i.

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History of the Lord of Qoyllorit'i

This story comes from our ancestors or grandparents, the Incas, and they knew many things; that is why people now go to the Lord of Qoyllorit'i. Even before, they walked from the city of Cusco to the Lord of Qoyllorit'i, whose name was Sinacara. Why? Because they went to see a star named Qoyllor; that is why we now call it Qoyllorit'i.

They climbed up to the Sinacara snow-capped mountain to observe a star; this star held significance because they knew how to read time, foresee the future, and perform various activities. Before participating in this Inti Raymi festival, the Incas went 4 days before to the snow-capped mountain. When the Spanish arrived, they saw how the Andean man went to the Sinacara snow-capped mountain; the Spanish with the Catholic order continued this pilgrimage; they reached the current chapel and painted the image of the Lord and put the name Qoyllorit'i. 

Nations involved in the tradition

Nowadays, we celebrate this important festival, part of it an Inca tradition and part Spanish Catholic. That is why we now celebrate it this way; currently, we can find 8 nations coming from different places in Cusco, such as: Paucartambo, Urubamba, Tahuantinsuyo, Paruro, Quispicanchis, etc.

These nations come to light candles, dance for our Lord. One feels happy doing all this. On these celebration days, people do not sleep because they think that the Lord of Qoyllorit'i watches them and that they are doing well, and that when celebrating our father or Lord Qoyllorit'i is happy. That is why people from different places come to celebrate.

But now there is a problem, and the local people and different nations do not know that when they go up to the Sinacara snow-capped mountain, they leave garbage bottles (they contaminate). Now, brothers, do not leave garbage; do not light candles because now we have this problem of global warming.

Now we call the Lord or father Qoyllorit'i; his name comes from the Quechua language Qoyllur (star) Rit’i (snow-capped), the Spanish put that name; the original name should be Qoyllur ritin (from the snow-capped its star).

Qoyllorit'i Nowadays

Now many people do not know the background of the story, and they believe that we are going to the Lord of Qoyllorit'i just to dance; these customs have been practiced since the time of their parents, and these parents passed down this tradition and history to their children, then to their grandchildren, this tradition and history. That is why many say. Now you can see two traditions, for example, the Inca tradition within all the nations they look at the mountain, they have the meeting on the mountain, but they see the sun father; they kneel down and feel happy, then they go to dance. 

Devotion in Qoyllorit'i

Now people go out of devotion because now they believe that they are doing well to go to the Lord. And they think if we are going to go to our father or Lord, that our father or Lord will give us many things, other people believe, and we saw that people built houses with stone, bought cars, after that, people believe that our Lord will give all this, a house and a car, and he is also giving us, that is why they go to the Lord of Qoyllorit'i.

People and many of us go with a reason because our Lord and father Qoyllorit'i gives us strength to be able to walk and reach his house or his place where he lives; that is why babies, young people, the elderly go and arrive at that place; they believe much more in this father or god, that is why we walk a lot to the chapel.

Towards the side of the Sinacara snow-capped mountain where the Lord father Qoyllorit'iy is, about 100,000 people arrive at his temple; that is why people pilgrimage and walk.

People come from different places (provinces of Cusco) Urubamba, Paruro, Acomayo, Quispicanchi, etc., and also from other regions of Peru like Puno, and other countries like Bolivia, and all this is due to the faith towards the Lord father Qoyllorit'i.

Qoyllorit'i : Demonstration of faith

Well, we do not know the true story; why? In part of the history books, they mention that the Incas went up to the mountain to look at a star, the name of this star was Q’oyllor, before the Inti Raymi (the sun festival) started, they went up and extracted snow blocks to take to the city of Cusco and leave in the main square of the city of Cusco (huacaypata), and the Incas thought that the block of snow would become water that would enter or bring water to Pachamama (mother earth) and later it would grow as: potato, corn, etc. That is why they extracted the snow blocks.

This Lord father gives everything, you could not understand what I am talking about, if you teach your son, you are doing well to instill religious values. The children also want to learn. That is why young people also learn how to go and how to get to the Lord father of Qoyllorit'i. That is why young people now feel sad because for children and young people there will no longer be any more because now we are living in modern times, and previously, many young children wanted to pilgrimage, but now with the change of religion, a lot is lost.

If it is now going to be lost and end, we will no longer believe, and we will forget to go to the Lord and not be able to lose our tradition; we have to teach our sons and daughters, young people. We have to know how important everything is; that is why we have to teach all children in general.

Global warming

Before on the Sinacara snow-capped mountain. Nowadays, there is much more snow, and we don't see much of the snow-capped mountain, but at the same time, people will continue to go, and we will also continue to go. Years ago, people saw it, and I also observed in videos how people came to climb. Nowadays people continue to climb, nothing will change if the snow-capped mountain continues to melt more; we will still attend that place, and nothing will change.

I know the story of another person, and he told me that the Pablo brothers went up to the high part of the mountain, and they did not know how to climb the mountains professionally. Many died, and they did not return; they went with all the devotion and faith.

It is very difficult to hear this type of story because people are more conscious, and in every news story, you hear that Pablo died. Since it came down from the snow, not many people died.

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