Pachamama Day

August 1 in the northwestern provinces.

For thousands of years, the Andean peoples of northwestern Argentina, Bolivia, Peru and northern Chile have offered food and drink to the Pachamama (Mother Earth) on August 1 to so that their crops will be bountiful and their livestock prolific during the coming year. This date marks the official beginning of both a new crop year and a new Andean year; winter is beginning to lose its grip, the first rains set in, and people are thinking spring thoughts. In fact, the whole month is considered to be a sensitive time when people are supposed to take special care of their health, in sync with a recently impregnated Pachamama.
On the last night of July, neighbors pick up any trash that might be lying around outdoors and burn it in a symbolic “spring” housecleaning. Early on August 1, they drink a cup of ruda (rue) tea on an empty stomach to ward off envy and illnesses, and burn resins and herbs to “cleanse” their homes with the smoke. Around midday comes the most important part of the festivity – the corpachada or earth-feeding ceremony. Each member of the community puts into a hole that was dug in the ground earlier that morning, items that they think will please Mother Earth, such as an ear of corn, a slice of squash or potato, and “vices” that include chicha, wine, coca leaves and cigarettes.

In some places the offerings related to crops are added to cooked food in a clay pot that was put into the hole previously, in others they are put directly onto the dirt. The hole is later covered by a stone slab or pile of stones. After the ceremony, everyone shares in a big lunch.

In Laguna Blanca in Catamarca’s Puna – where tourists have been allowed to attend the party only recently – the best sheep of the town’s herds is sacrificed at the edge of the hole. As a further gesture to tourism, people dressed up like the Pachamama and Coquena, the mythological protector of camelids, make an appearance.
In February, a corpachada is performed at the beginning of Carnival to thank the Pachamama for good crops.
August 1 is not a calendar holiday, but Pachamama Day is celebrated in innumerable homes and communities in several places as a religious event. Every family home has a place to perform the ritual. Although in some towns Mass is celebrated at the beginning of festivities, there is no confusion in people’s minds as to the identity of the figure venerated; the Pachamama symbolizes fecundity, not virginity.
In the northwestern provinces, Pachamama Day is celebrated by criollos as well as Indians. Nevertheless, the places where it is observed with the most unction are precisely the indigenous communities.
In Amaicha del Valle in Tucumán, the first week of the month is dedicated to festivities that include music and dancing, and ballad singing. In some places there is a tendency to extend them to the entire month of August with an eye to attracting tourists.
In Jujuy – where the Andean people’s Carnival first became famous in Argentina – August is presented as the “cultural month of the Pachamama” because two other popular festivals – the “Headband Bullfight” in Casabindo and the Jujuy Exodus in the provincial capital – take place a few weeks later.
In Salta, Pachamama Month honors are divided in a Solomonic way between two major Kolla communities in the province’s high-altitude Puna region: this year, celebrations were officially inaugurated in San Antonio de los Cobres on August 1, and will concluded on August 31 in Tolar Grande. On August 30, a caravan of vehicles will set out from the Plaza 9 de Julio main square of Salta City at 2pm, arriving in Tolar Grande at 9pm.

From 8am to noon on August 31, locals will show visitors the sights around town. After lunch, there will be a solemn ceremony atop Mount Altar Sagrado (4,000 meters above sea level) at 3pm, after which visitors will begin the return trip to the provincial capital.
In San Miguel de Tucumán, an urban Pachamama Day is staged in 9 de Julio Park every August 1 for city people who lack money to travel to the back country to participate in the traditional fiesta and, of course, for tourists who happen to be in town on that day. This year, the celebration called for peace and an end to illnesses, and asked people to respect nature.
Tourists can also participate in a corpachada in the Mataderos Fair in Buenos Aires.
Other worthwhile experiences at the same time of year: hikes and horseback rides around Purmamarca, and the Regional Folklore Museum in Humahuaca (Jujuy): the Pachamama Museum in Amaicha del Valle and the pre-Hispanic ruins of Quilmes (Tucumán); a 16-hour excursion in a very special Movitrack truck that begins and ends in Salta City, with stops in the Toro Canyon, San Antonio de los Cobres, the Salinas Grandes salt flats, and Purmamarca; Antofagasta de la Sierra in the Puna, Belén, and the remains of the Inca town of El Shinkal in Catamarca.,,,
PHOTO CREDITS: The earth-feeding ceremony in Salta. Ministry of Tourism of Salta. The earth-feeding ceremony in Laguna Blanca. Iggy / Catamarca Tourism Secretariat. Tolar Grande. Ministry of Tourism of Salta.

Jujuy Exodus

August 22-23 in San Salvador de Jujuy

Few tourists know about the event commemorated in this celebration, but for the residents of the capital of the northern province of Jujuy, August 23, 1812 was the turning point of the War of Independence. After losing a battle in the northern part of the Humahuaca Valley with a large royalist army coming from Peru, General Manuel Belgrano ordered the population of San Salvador de Jujuy to burn their houses and crops to leave the enemy without provisions and move south with his army. His order issued on August 22 specified that those who did not obey would be shot. Ignoring the order of the Buenos Aires Triumvirate that he retreat all the way to Córdoba, Belgrano began the march to Tucumán with his army and the townspeople on August 23.
On the way, his army defeated the royalists in two important battles. The people from Jujuy were able to return home only a year later. Many decided to remain in Tucumán. The city’s residents commemorate the traumatic exodus with a symbolic burning of miniature huts on the banks of the Chico River the night of August 22, and a parade of carts and people dressed in period attire the night of August 23.

Pilgrimage to Las Padercitas

Second Sunday of August outside La Rioja City, Argentina.

On the second Sunday of August, residents of the city of La Rioja throw a big festival in the village of Las Padercitas 7 km from town to mark a peace pact that avoided an Indian uprising at the end of the 16th century. The name of the place (a popular simplification of the word paredecitas, or “little walls” that refers to the ruins of old adobe walls that are enshrined inside a stone church built in 1927). The walls are thought to be those of the church where Franciscan priest Francisco Solano headed off a blood bath and baptized thousands of Diaguita Indians. The celebration marks the turning point in the existence of the recently founded colonial city of La Rioja in 1593, when thousands of Indians who were fed up with the slavery that had been imposed on them by the colonists descended on the settlement to demand the resignation of the mayor. The Spaniards were few, but they had firearms and cannon. On the other hand, the Indians were many and threatened to dam a river in the mountains to leave the city without water.
Father Solano – already famous in the region for captivating Indians with his singing and violin playing – offered his mediation. He told the Indians that Christ was a good person like themselves, and the Spaniards that their conduct was unchristian. The Indians ended up accepting baptism in exchange for the “replacement” of the Spanish mayor with an image of the Christ Child. (Solano, the first New World saint, was canonized in 1726.) The deal arranged by Father Solano gave rise to the popular Tinkunaco Festival (invented by the Jesuits in 1624) in which the present Lord Mayor symbolically gives a Christ Child image the keys to the city during a procession that takes place on the night of every December 31. But it is only for three days; the keys are returned in a similar procession on January 3.
Other not-to-be-missed excursions at the same time of year: Talampaya National Park in La Rioja and Ischigualasto Provincial Park (Valley of the Moon) in San Juan.
PHOTO: The saint’s image, complete with violin, on the pulpit of the Church of San Francisco in Trujillo, Perú.

Caminos y Sabores

August 13-16 in Buenos Aires.

The fifth edition of the Caminos y Sabores artisan food and crafts festival at the Rural Society grounds in Palermo will show products made by families from eight provinces and various municipalities throughout the country. Carlo Petrini, the president of the international Slow Food movement, will come from Italy to visit the show and inaugurate the first Argentine edition of Terra Madre, an international network of food communities dedicated to producing quality food in a responsible, sustainable way . There will be cooking demonstrations, lectures and a photo contest. Salta will be promoting its Wine Trail. Other provinces that have confirmed their participation are Jujuy, Tucumán, Entre Ríos, Corrientes, Buenos Aires, La Pampa and Chubut. The show will be open from 12 noon to 9pm. General admission is 20 pesos, and 10 pesos for retirees and students on Thursday and Friday.
PHOTO: Locro.

Tango Festival and Dance World Cup

August 14 to 31 in Buenos Aires.

During the second fortnight of August, Buenos Aires will breathe tango in the Luna Park and in Harrods, the venues of the 11th World Tango Festival and the 7th Tango World Cup. During the festival (Aug. 14-23) there will be free classes and shows, movies, lectures and book presentations.

During the Dance World Cup (Aug. 23-31) competitions in the Tango Salón (the traditional social dance of the milongas) and Tango Escenario (show dancing that tourists see in the tango houses) categories will take place in the Luna Park stadium. More than 300 couples have signed up for the World Cup. A fair of items related to tango will take place in Harrods from August 15 to 30.
PHOTO: Show Tango finalists in the 2008 Dance World Cup. Buenos Aires City Tourist Office.

46th National Dorado Fishing Tournament

August 14-17 in Paso de la Patria, Corrientes, Argentina.

The dorado, Argentina’s scrappiest native freshwater game fish, will be the object of Corrientes’ most famous yearly sports fishing tournament during the third weekend of this month.

Last year more than 500 fishermen in 180 boats caught 336 fish during the four days of 45th edition of the contest while their non-fishing families went on horseback rides and tours in the area during the daylight hours, and nobody missed out on dancing chamamé or rock and roll played by bands at night. Don’t expect a big dorado bake at the end of each day – the catch and release vogue that began with trout in Patagonia has reached the depleted fisheries of the Paraná River as well.
Other worthwhile experiences at this time of year: wildlife watching in the Iberá wetlands, and a stay on a working cattle ranch.
PHOTO: Dorados. National Tourism Secretariat.
Etiquetas: Argentina, Corrientes, Fairs and Festivals

Casabindo Bullfight

August 15 in Casabindo, Jujuy, Argentina.

In the main square of the Puna village of Casabindo, an improvised, disarmed bullfighter flourishes a red cloth in an attempt to provoke a bull with a red cloth into charging him so he can snatch the headband with silver coins from around its horns and offer it to the Virgin.
The scene is repeated about ten times with different bulls and bullfighters as hundreds of onlookers perched atop the walls of the square wait to see what will happen. The event is preceded by a mass, and a religious procession that is accompanied by men dressed like rheas, and bands of musicians who play erkes and drums.
Other worthwhile experiences at the same time of year: The Sapagua petroglyphs and the Regional Folklore Museum in Humahuaca.
PHOTO: The Casabindo bullfight. Bonnie Tucker.

Poncho Festival

New date.

The International Poncho Festival, which takes place every year during the winter vacation period in the Argentine province of Catamarca, was originally scheduled to take place between July 23 and August 2, but was postponed owing to the health emergency caused by the A flu. The new date recently announced for the 39th edition of this fiesta is August 21 to 30.
PHOTO CREDIT: Folk dancers at last year’s National Poncho Festival. Catamarca Tourism Secretariat.

Andean Fair

August 15-18 in Belén, Catamarca.

This weekend, the second edition of the Andean Fair will get under way in the city of Belén. The fair promotes the culture, food and handcraft of Catamarca’s pre-Puna and Puna regions. The program will include presentations of tourist itineraries; music shows; food tastings; craft-making, spinning, knitting and pottery workshops; lectures on the environment, and cooking classes.
PHOTO CREDIT: Andean potatoes and corn. Courtesy of Catamarca Tourism Secretariat