Well, it’s February and that means party time in Puno. It started out with the Candelaria, the big celebration of the Virgin de la Candelaria, now we are into Carnivales (Carnivals) and Corta Monte (Cut a Tree). Below are some pictures from the Candelaria this year. Truly, this year it didn’t seem as big of a deal as it did last year. I don’t know if it really was not as big of a deal for the people here or if we are just used to Puno and their parties by now. We didn’t spend much time checking out the festival but Franci and I were able to watch the procession of the virgin. Wow, it was a big ‘to-do’, people were on their roofs throwing flower petals on the doll, the street was decorated in its honor, there was a line to walk up in front of the doll before the procession and pray/worship it. Really, it was disgusting and sad. I know some people just do this out of tradition, because their parents did it and its what you do in Puno. I know a lot of the people don’t really believe in the virgin and her so called powers. But, even so, to see the time and effort put into this procession of……a DOLL, it was sickening and I know it does not please God.
The culture here is interesting, the dances are fascinating, the costumes unique, but the pagan chains have spiritually imprisoned these people for generations and it continues today. Pray for Puno, pray that these chains would be broken, that these customs and traditions would be left behind in order to seek a new way of life with Christ. I never want these people to lose their culture, its a beautiful thing, I love watching polleras (typical skirts) waving as women walk in the fields, I love the importance of greeting everyone in the room when you arrive and leave, I love the dances and the way they are being passed down to younger generations. But, the paganism must be lost, forgotten and buried forever. I want Puno to worship and praise God and only God, I want them to celebrate Him, to dance for Him, to get together and fellowship in His Name.