Ritual as inversion of social roles:
the "chonguinada" in the pilgrimage to "Seņor de Muruhuay" in the Central Andes

Ana Teresa Lecaros

( ) The pilgrimage to the sanctuary of the "Seņor de Muruhuay" (Jesus Christ of Muruhuay), located in the Central Andes, reflects a cultural polarity, which is a fundamental element of Peruvian society. Since the Spanish conquest of the Inca State at the beginning of the XVIth century, the difference between the native indigenous culture and the Mediterranean culture the conquerors brought with them, is present in each level. The whole society and its cultures are based on the polarity "criollo" and "indio", the first meaning "originated by the conquerors" and the latter "of native origin". The Peruvians are predominantly catholic Christians. But the catholic rites and beliefs in the indigenous sector of society have a sui generis nature: they are an Andean reinterpretation of the Christian doctrine. The "Seņor de Muruhuay" does not embody the idea of a universal deity, open for anybody, but a regional jealous divinity, which takes care of its devotees. Furthermore, the divine essence itself is impregnated with particular Andean attributes: the god appeared, painted on a rock surface, in an "Andean" sacred context: a mountain and a spring. Thus, the ritual that takes place in May has strong Andean aspects and the devotees are of Andean origin. One of the main symbolic peaks of the ritual is the dance in front of the image of the deity called "uinada". This dance expresses an open inversion of the social reality. Basically it divides the dancers in "chonguinos" and "chutos"; the "chonguinos" being somewhat equivalent to "civilised" and "criollo", while the "chuto" as "wild" and "indian". The roles and movements of the dancers and the reactions of the pilgrims clearly indicate that both identify themselves with the "chonguinos", which means "civilised" and "criollos", and look down upon "chutos".

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