Wanderlust and love of travel have taken Katacha Díaz all over the world to gather material for her stories. Among the children’s books she has authored is Carolina’s Gift: A Story of Peru for the Soundprints’ Make Friends Around the World series. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming with Barely South Review, Westview, Visual Verse, The MacGuffin, Medical Literary Messenger, Cecile’s Writers’, The Galway Review, Peacock Journal, Flash Frontier, New Mexico Review, Gravel, and elsewhere. She lives and writes up in her perch with a wide view of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest.
By Katacha Díaz
In the colorful village of Pisac in the Sacred Valley of the Andes Mountains of Peru, a shaman priest performs ancient Inca rituals to honor Pachamama, Mother Earth — burning incense, chanting, whistling, and shaking a rattle, as he sacrifices the cuys, guinea pigs. The campesinos bring plates of food, drink, cigars and coca leaf offerings for the fertility goddess, to bring good luck tilling the soil, planting, and harvesting their crops.
When it comes to celebrating Pachamama’s agricultural bounty, the campesinos keep their Inca ancestors’ traditions alive, gifting the first fruits of chicha, corn beer, and honoring Mother Earth with a special challa, toast, spilling a little of the first pour on the floor, before drinking the rest of the maize home-brew.
Rhythmic, haunting sounds of the quena flutes and harmonious flowing notes of harps fill the air. Women and children dance and sing traditional ballads, just like their ancestors did hundreds of years ago.
The Sunday Parade’s main attraction is “Pachamama Queen of the Year.” Interestingly it is not the prettiest indigenous young woman in the village selected for this honor; the chosen queen is always the oldest woman in the community. Elderly women are considered living symbols of the fertility goddess, and celebrated for being the keepers of ancestral wisdom.
Through farming and seasonal celebrations, the Quechua and Aymara campesinos in the Andean highlands of South America pass down and keep alive the ancient traditions of their Inca ancestors.