Yes, in my country Alpacas get married…
As we all know, nowadays in many countries people marry their pets, sometimes for fun, and sometimes because those little animals become part of the family, and like their own children, they are given love, attentions, and all the comfort their loving parents-owners can provide to them, this is pretty much accepted in other cultures… In my country alpacas get married, but for a completely different reason.
Peru is a land of traditions, religion, and devotion, a land of syncretism (the mix of 2 believes European and Indigenous) Most of Peruvians are indeed Catholic and practice Catholic traditions. There is a minority that says they are Catholic, attend to mass, get communion when they can visit a church, baptise their children and try to be good Catholic, and, that in the comfort and isolation of their remote communities and homes continue practicing the ancestral traditions that had been inherited to them and respected since thousands of years ago…who are they to break a millenarian tradition? These beliefs will be transmitted generation to generation as they have always been, and that brings happiness to my heart.
In a harsh landscape like the one of the Highlands, where altitude and terrain’s inclination makes extremely difficult the subsistence of any common mortals, indigenous families fully adapted to their environment rely only on 1 important thing, the fertility of the soil and animals, the only ones that make this possible are the powerful Gods: Pachamama, Pachatata, the Apus, Inti (the Sun God) and many others… every beginning of harvest season payments to our deities are made, to keep the balance in the world and our Gods happy.
The marriage of the Alpacas is a ceremony performed in High communities of the Andes and is of great importance because is considered a way of consultation or an Oracle, to know how good the next reproductive season will be.
A pair of Alpacas are trapped, male and female, they have to be youngest and beautiful mature ones. Tied down and once completely calmed will be marked with CHICHA, a fermented drink of corn that is prepared for special occasions, from their foreheads to their tail in a straight line, and then their head will be cover for some seconds with a blanket… silence will be made for them to calm down, no one will move around.. and slowly the person that has the cords that are tied around the neck of these animals will go away, slowly… the most important part is expected at this point, the Oracle and response of the Gods…
In the Andean world everything relies on the balance of opposed, male and female, day and night, sun and moon…, in this ceremony the behavior of the alpacas will be interpreted as the response to their petitions, if the male stands up first, the year will be good and many baby alpacas will be born, if the female stands up first the year will be bad and more rituals will have to be performed to revert this situation. The ceremony finished, as usual, with music, dancing and more chicha drink spread over the alpacas.
We and they don’t know they came to this conclusion, we and they only know that this is the interpretation, and they continue carrying with solemnity this ceremony, passing it to their kids, and using this opportunity to get closer to their family and neighbours in reality where there is no sense independence and self-sufficiency, on the contrary, and environment where reciprocity and respect to others are vital rule to live in harmony with pairs, animals, and Gods.
Photo credits: Vanessa Vasquez
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