Q’oyllur Riti is one of the most intriguing festivals in the Andes, combining Pre-Columbian fertility ceremonies and Catholic processions with colourful dancers and Andean music. Said to be the greatest indigenous pilgrimage in the Americas. Each year just before Corpus Christi the people of the district of Ocongate in Peru perform a ritual based on the image of Christ. The main ceremony is held at the foot of Mount Ausangate, at 4,700 meters (15,416 feet), above sea level, where temperatures often plunge below freezing. The ritual brings thousands of pilgrims, including shepherds, traders and the merely curious who gather at the shrine. Legend has it that the infant Christ, dressed as a shepherd, appeared to a young highland Indian boy, Marianito Mayta who died, and the image of the Lord of Qoyllur Rit’i appeared on the stone. Qoyllur Rit’i also means Lord of Star Snow. Another interpretation is that it is worship of the Pleiades star constellation that reappears in June and signifies the upcoming harvest. More than 10,000 pilgrims climb to the snowline, accompanied by dancers in full costume as various mythical characters following stone cairns, built along the way, to atone for their sins. An elite group of sturdy queros set out for the mountaintop, at 6,362 metres (20,867 feet), in search of the Snow Star, reputedly buried within the mountain. On their way back down they haul massive blocks of ice on their backs for the symbolic irrigation of their lands with holy water from the Ausangate mountain. Video.