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Location: Acobamba (Junín)
Date: May 3
Left to their fate by officials of the vice-regency, those sick with smallpox (muru: smallpox, huay: house) were allegedly healed by an image of Christ that took shape on a stone slab at the foot of Mount Shalacoto (2,959 meters above sea level), and has remained there ever since. This spot, located in the district of Acobamba, 12 km from the town of Tarma in the department of Junín, is Peru's foremost pilgrimage center. The celebration of this image abounds in pre-Hispanic rites dominated by elements such as water, earth and stone. Today, the worship rituals begin the night before with a fireworks display. On the main day, after a Mass held in Quechua, the devout deposit a "letter to God".
Then everyone returns to Tarma in a procession headed by the mayordomo (the organizer of the festivities), his wife and troupes of dancers including the caracolillos and negritos, who compete in dances such as the abrecalle and the chutos.
After the dancing, everyone settles down to lunch featuring typical Andean dishes such as fried guinea pig served with peanuts and beans. Over the following days, the locals dance the famous chonguinada in the streets of Acobamba, that have been carpeted in flower petals.
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