The celebration of Santa Vera Cruz, celebrated every year in the Beautiful Valley of Cochabamba, is still the object of study, journalistic reports, but especially for devotees is an occasion to ask for fertility. Women are asking to have children, and farmers pray for their animals to have young and produce fruit. For this purpose certain rituals are done, dolls, candles, dung are used … all to experience the generosity of the Author of all life.
The protagonists are: the miraculous image of the crucified Lord and the pilgrims, most of them peasants, who enter into a close relationship through their beliefs and rites. Through the rite they want to get in touch with the divinity or “with the forces of nature to have a good harvest, the fertility of the earth, the fertility of animals, protection of the natural phenomena that do evil.” The rites then carried out during the feast are, in a certain way, as “a two-way exchange: of gratitude and at the same time of petition”.
The party is celebrated on May 2 and 3. The first date is the day of the arrival of the people, and the second is the central day of the celebration. Although these are the main days of the party, some stay a few more days, for example until the following Sunday. In our case, it is a party immersed in the time of the harvest. Here, in Latin America, this month belongs to the fall season, therefore it is time to collect the fruits of the earth. The joy of the harvest has its end in the party, which not only expresses a thanks for these fruits, but also is an expression of request for the following year to be very fruitful.
The way of placing the candles also has its symbolism. It is agreed to the number of members and according to how the family lives. For example, if five people are well joined, the candles are put together, but if there are two who are fighting with the family, two candles are separated. This way of putting also depends on the conviction of each one because although there are separated people someone can put all the candles together, thus expressing their desire that the family be united again.
The people of the country who have their animals by the sail, also put the dung. It is consumed all together and the ash that remains serves to be scattered in the corralito, asking for the blessing of the Lord of Santa Vera Cruz. Burning the animal dung is one of the indigenous elements of the festival, and expresses the hope that the animals can have more offspring. It is not only the animals whose burlap burns, but also all of them in general: goats, cows, donkeys, sheep, etc.
Another element that must be highlighted is the payment to the Pachamama. The peasants “have learned from childhood that the land is alive, that it is called Pachamama, that feeds men and that it is necessary to offer a ‘payment’, even this payment is an obligation rooted in the own culture, through him one He comes to ‘be true to himself’. This custom of thanking to the Pachamama is a reality that the town still conserves of the pre-Hispanic times, whose objective is to obtain good fruits in its crops. It is worth mentioning here that for certain indigenous Pachamama is not an Andean divinity with its own reality, but a holy virgin that feeds men by God’s commission. ”
In the Andean culture, chicha has been used as an element to thank the Pachamama. The spilling of the chicha is called with the word quechua ch’allar, and something valuable is poured; In this case the chicha, a drink produced from corn. Here it is worth saying that it is badly seen spilling little chicha, being able to be considered stingy who throws little. To invite the Pachamama spilling chicha is a way of sharing with her what one receives. Chicha is also thrown on top of animals.
There is no party without singing, so we can not omit the songs from Santa Vera Cruz, which are songs “that have a popular and picaresque component. As you can see, some texts are even about to ‘insult’ the Lord, they are like a kind of claim expressing their requests.
Very moving is the belief of women who can not have children. When a family no longer wants to have more ‘wawas’ (children), then the lady leaves a doll at the foot of the image. There are present women who for some reason have problems to have children. They hope to take one, they wait anxiously, having faith that one day they will become mothers. Those who have the joy of picking up a doll, take it to the church for the father to bless, and after the blessing they keep it at home. If a woman carries two dolls that means she wants to have two daughters.
Pilgrims to express their request for a house, next to their candles put a small house, as a symbol of what they expect to receive. Those who ask for a car, obviously put a miniature of the car. They stress that for this prayer to be effective one must have faith. The people of the rural area mainly put figures of animals of plaster, to obtain more livestock. They can also put potatoes next to the Cross, to ask for abundance of them during the harvest. The robes of Christ often have authentic banknotes hanging. This fact expresses gratitude and not so much the desire for more money. But if someone wanted to get more money, he should buy the stamps that symbolize money, that is, a miniature of the bills. Once bought you must make them brush with the image, so you do not lack money.