Today in Cusco saw a bit of a warm up in the late afternoon/early evening for tomorrow’s Carnaval festivities. This meant that the plazas (squares) filled up with locals, many in traditional dress, dancing and playing instruments in preparation for tomorrow’s parade. However it also meant quite a few of the city’s youth and kids also got in a bit of a warm up – and for them the main activity of Carnaval is to throw water, or worse, at passers-bye!
Carnaval comes just before the start of Lent and in theory is a Catholic inspired event. However as with most Christian events, they tend to coincide with earlier ‘pagan’ events – in the Andean region there were historically events at this time to coincide with the lunar calendar and weather seasons.
So Carnaval is now seen here as a more ‘local’ multicultural/religious event. In Cusco the main days will be Sundays 2 & 9 March, in some other places it goes on all week, and may include a day or two of public holiday.
The recent history of Carnaval in Peru is rather dubious, as it has been associated with lawlessness and antisocial crime – such as attacks on passers-bye, particularly women. For a while after 1959 it was actually banned, and apparently anyone convicted of ‘violence’ today during the festivities faces a stiff prison sentence!?