Fiesta de la Virgen de Urkupiña

Religious in Cochabamba

For four or so days in Quillacollo, basically a district of Cochabamba 13km to the east, the chicha flows liberally (as does garapiña, a strong blend of chicha, cinnamon, coconut and ayrampo, a local mystery ingredient from a cactus that colors the drink red). Folkloric musicians and dancers from around the country perform amid large cheering and intoxicated crowds.

Tradition has it that long ago the Virgin Mary appeared several times to a shepherd girl at the foot of the hill known as Calvario. The visits were later witnessed by the girl’s parents and a crowd of villagers when she shouted 'Orkopiña' ('There on the hill!') as the Virgin was seen ascending heavenwards. At the summit of the hill, the townspeople discovered the stone image of the Virgin, which now stands in the church to the right of an otherwise fairly ordinary looking altar, surrounded by votive offerings and commemorative plaques giving thanks for blessings received.