The months of October and November in Peru mean that the celebration of Señor de los Milagros, the Lord of Miracles, takes over the streets of Lima.
Barranco District, Peru
As one of the longest religious celebrations in the world, festivities take place in each neighborhood throughout Lima until everyone has participated.
Neighborhoods celebrate regardless of class, stature, or race to honor this event. The festival typically ends in October, but in my neighborhood Barranco, it was celebrated all the way into November.
The streets alive with holiness, as the never-ending celebration of Señor de Los Milagros passes through each neighborhood.
It is a celebration of the Lord of Miracles, but in a country which feels its fair share of earthquakes it is also a time of honor to Cristo Moreno (dark-skinned Jesus) who is seen as the patron of earthquakes. Some consider this to be related to the god Pachacamac—meshing ancient cultural beliefs with modern Catholic ones. After a severe earthquake in the 18th century when most of Lima was destroyed, what remained was the fresco painting of Jesus’ crucifixion painted by an anonymous African brought to Peru through slavery.
Streets lined with purple banners, flags, balloons, confetti and vendors are filled with people awaiting the colourful altar to pass by. Floral altars are decadently laid out on the street for offerings by businesses or residents. As the altar passes by it pauses. Offerings of flowers are made, and children are blessed—held up above the crowd.
Men of all ages represent their parish by bearing the weight of the 2,450 kg alter of silver brass and wood with images of both Cristo Moreno and the Virgin Mary with pride on their shoulders. They are cloaked in purple robes with a thick white cord draped over their shoulders to provide cushion for the massive weight upon them.
On the back of the altar is a mural of the Virgin Mary. The flags hanging and the candles burning mark which ‘cuadra’ or block of the neighborhood is now holding the processional. Men and women from that cuadra are now the ones carrying the alter and singing.
The altar is led by religious incense carried by singing women, old and young, cloaked in beautiful lace. They were trailed by a band in purple, playing processional music. At night, the processions were even more dramatic—especially when the billows of smoke from the incense wafted through the street and the sky filled with fireworks.
I was so impressed by the men who bore the weight of the altar. As it passed by you could see written on their faces how daunting the task was. They had such pride in participating that the weight was more of a privilege than a burden. Many mens faces were clinched tightly, their expressions revealing just how challenging it was and how focused they were.
I admire the dedication and sense of community that overtook this neighborhood. It was beautiful to see people fill the streets and join the crowd, coming together for a day to honor a common belief and celebrate. A true sense of community and togetherness was felt, it became clear to me why Barranco celebrates this more fervently than other Lima districts. I was grateful to be among the celebration as local celebrating with my neighbors, granted an honorary pass as a Barranco local.
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