Each year on January 20 the small town of Caraz, Huaylas near Huaraz in Ancash celebrates the town’s patron saint, the Virgin of Chiquinquirá, a title for the Virgin Mary in South America.
The name derives from a portrait of Mary made in the small Colombian town of Chiquinquirá on a rustic piece of cotton cloth which miraculously recovered its colors and brightness after being left carelessly for years and today is worshipped mainly in Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador.
Festivities in Caraz in Peru already begin early on January 19 at the main plaza of the small town with welcoming delegations of citizens from across the country. After this official act the image of the Virgen of Chiquinquirá is taken out of the church, carried around the main square and returned to the church where a special mass is celebrated.
In the evening the image is carried through town in a huge procession accompanied by traditional music, dancing and folkloric presentations. The day ends with colorful fireworks.
The central day of the celebration, January 20, begins with a 21-cannon salute, followed by a mass and a large procession in which the image of the Virgen of Chiquinquirá is carried through the streets of Caraz. The festivities once again are accompanied by folkloric music, dances and performances before the Virgin is returned to her altar inside the church. Celebrations continue with more traditional music, dancing, costumes and regional food and drinks. Additionally cock fights, Peruvian Paso Horse events and other cultural activities take place.