Entrega de Varas - Festivals in Peru

Location: Cusco
Date: January 01

At the start of every year, the elders of each community in the area (the yayas) come together to designate the candidates who are to become the highest authorities of their villages: the Varayocs.

In a festival that features gallons of chicha (maize beer) and llonque (sugarcane alcohol), the mayor or Varayoc receives the scepter or vara that symbolizes his power. This pre-Hispanic custom has been glossed over with Occidental formalities.

The varas are crafted from local wood varieties such as chonta palm, black hualtaco, huallacán or membrillo, measure around a meter in length and are inlaid with gold and silver (Cusco's Town Hall features a small museum that exhibits some superb examples). When a Varayoc steps down from his post, he ceases to hold any post in his community ever again, and becomes one of the venerable elders.

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