The Corn Festival

Recently, the AASD and Team Peru traveled to Lares for the annual Choquecancha Corn Festival.  For the last three years we have celebrated this festival with Ruben, his family, and friends in his cornfields. The corn festival is a tradition passed down from the Incas. Today, it is sadly falling out of practice in many of the small farming communities of the Andes. Together Ruben and ourselves are dedicated to keeping this beautiful ceremony alive and practiced, at least in his community of Choquecancha.   

 

What is in a Tradition?

The corn festival is one of three big workdays in Ruben’s steep mountainside cornfield. It is the last work day before harvest, but it is so much more than a work day. The day is centered around one of the cornerstones of the traditional Inca communal work system, Mink’a. Practicing Mink’a means that farmers in the community rotate working together in each other’s fields, a beautiful system of communal support and community building. The day is filled with a feast of traditional foods – meat stewed for the special occasion, tasty fried corn cakes, a traditional chard and potatoes mix, rice, mote (large corn kernels), and of course the native papa (potatoes). Chicha, the local corn alcohol, fuels workers and cooks alike between stints of intensive clearing between rows. Dances in the corn fields, beautiful flute and conch shell playing, and lots more dancing carry the celebration throughout the night. For a beautiful, detailed personal account of this day, check out a post by Amanda Sidman, who joined us for the day! As the clouds flitted across the pristine sky, we stood atop a vast mountaintop, celebrating a day of community, tradition, and beauty. Thanks  to Ruben for inviting us to celebrate such a wonderful tradition for yet another year! ~Kat

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