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The Festival of the Sun – Inti Raymi

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Inti Raymi Sun fest, INTI RAYMI 2018


The Inti Raymi is a festivity that celebrates the Sun god, nowadays it is recreated on June 24th of every year as the most solemn and grandiose festivity of the disappeared Inca Empire.

The Inti Raymi is a feast celebrated since the time of the Incas during the winter solstice to worship the sun god, involves colorful costumes, luxury banquets, festive music, and historical recreations.

The stage of the Inti Raymi is the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, located in the northern part of the city of Cusco, according to the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, Sacsayhuaman is “the greatest and most arrogant work that the Incas had built to show their power and majesty.

The Inti Raymi in the time of the Incas
The sun was going away (June – winter solstice), the cold was increasing, at dawn the water was frosty, therefore, we had to ask the Sun to return, so that when the morning twilights were nearing, they would not continue advancing towards the north. Finally, it was necessary to witness to the god Inti, the eternity and total surrender of his children, with submission and respect.

The Inka Pachakuteq ordered the construction of the Qorikancha, a sumptuous temple dedicated to reverencing the Sun, god whom the Inkas called Apu P`unchao or Apu Inti, in whose honor the imposing feast of the Inti Raymi was consecrated, which reaches contours of solemnity and splendor, as described by the most important chroniclers.

More than six centuries ago, the Inka Pachakuteq instituted the Festival of the Sun God and today the Cusco people continue to represent it with the same fervor with which their ancestors performed it.

There were several reasons that prompted the Inca civilization to make sacrifices and offerings to the star king. One was that the Inka, like the nobility of Cusco, were considered natural children of the Sun; they obeyed his existence, and should correspond to him with sacrifices and offerings.

The Inti Raymi in the News

The town of Cusco has been preparing for the festival for many days before June 24th, when it fills the esplanade in front of which the fortress of Sacsayhuaman is built.

To the beat of millenary musical airs, delegates from the four of them parade in their typical costumes, and also, as if they had come from other times, as if they were wild, coyas and pallas, which advance in undulating columns. Finally, all of a sudden, the Inca lets himself be seen. The sovereign is transported on a bunk bed that in legendary times was made of gold and silver and accompanied by a retinue of apricots and other dignitaries who walk at a respectable distance from him.

The festival in honor of the sun god, is held in the presence of the Inca, the Willaq Uma or High Priest, Tarpuntay, Wirapirikuq and Kallparikuy, as well as the nobles and representatives of the panacas, for which three impressive historical and natural scenarios are used:

Inti Raymi – Coricancha

Qorikancha (Golden fence): Main temple of Cusco dedicated to the Sun, where the golden garden is said to have been (here the first rituals of the cult of the Apu Inti and the Pacha Mama were performed, where large offerings were buried, whose evidences found in 1972 are in the Garcilaso Museum of the INC).

Inti Raymi – Main Square

The Plaza Mayor (the ancient Auqaypata or Warrior Square): In the time of the Incas, the ceremony was held entirely in this immense square in the middle of the great USHNU (ceremonial platform).

Inti Raymi – Sacsayhuaman

Sacsayhuamán (voice derived from the Quechua terms “sacsay” and “huamán”, which translated into Spanish means “sacíate falcón”). It is located at 3,555 m.a.s.l., one kilometer from the Inca neighborhood of Qollqanpata. It was the Royal House of the Sun and temple dedicated to the Lightning, according to Garcilaso. The central part of the contemporary Inti Raymi has been held here since 1944 in front of an impressive crowd.

With almost sixty years of existence, the new Inti Raymi is now an inseparable part of the life of Cusco. Not only is it the main event of the month in the city, but its fame has transcended Peruvian borders and also, within them, it has been the example for other festivals of national identity.

Route of the Inti Raymi

  • Coricancha
  • Main square
  • Sacsayhuaman

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