Sacsayhuamán, Cusco, Peru
GPS: -13.507266775508, -71.982386626736
Inti Raymi is the Celebration of the Sun in the Quechua language, the most important Inca festival. This ancient Andean religious ceremony is hold every June 24th in Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire (Tahuantinsuyu), in honour of the sun god Inti.
This event also refers to the origins of the Inca people. Inti Raymi is an opportunity for the inhabitants to thank the Father Sun (Inti, son of the creator deity Viracocha) and Mother Earth (the goddess Pachamama) for the abundance of arable land.
The Inca emperor Pachacútec created this ceremony for the first time in the 15th century. It lasted several days to the rhythm of dances and sacrifices (human and animal) in the main square of Cuzco (Haukaypata). Three days before the beginning of the festivities, as a purification, the adults had to avoid any sexual intercourse and only raw white corn could be eaten with a grass called chucam.
Inti Raymi is held every winter solstice in June when the sun is furthest from the Earth (this is both the shortest day and the longest night of the year). This event corresponds to the first day in the Inca solar calendar and coincides with the beginning of the corn harvest among the pre-Hispanic populations of the Andes, including the Incas, Quechua and Aymara. At the time of the empire, incantations are led by the Inca priest to call for the return of the sun.
A procession gives rise to an abundance of colour, costumes, dance and traditional music using pututos (wind instruments made from a mollusc shell), quepas (a kind of trumpet made from hollow cane) and tinyas (small leather drums used as percussion instruments).
Various rites and offerings (invocation to the sun, sacred fire, distribution of chicha, sacred bread, llama sacrifice…) animate the Sun Festival, a spectacle that is very popular with the local communities and which is part of the Peruvian national cultural heritage.
Each Andean community has its own traditions and customs in the celebration of Inti Raymi, the great Festival of the Sun. The large number of actors and participants represent the diversity of the populations that made up the Inca Empire (which extended over 4,000 kilometres along the Andes at its peak) and which gathered to honour the sun god Inti. A week of festivities continues at the end of the festival in Cuzco (entertainment, concerts, funfair…).