A few days after the Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, the annual Inti Raymi is held. This is considered one of the most important four ceremonies in Cusco which was celebrated back then. This Solstice represented the beginning of a new cycle and the return of the source of life, Intitaytanchi, Father Sun, to the Andes.
This event is being celebrated by many people all over the Andes region. The Plaza de Armas central station in Cusco is transposed with Indians who are camping around the area. The colorful local costumes, the smell of small cooking fires, and the music all lend a carnival atmosphere … and this goes on for a week. It’s the party of the year, and no one is too humble to not attend. The typical coffee and snacks are still served until this date.
There are street fairs, daytime expositions, colorful crowds and dancing in the street. The Plaza de Armas is where free concerts are held. However, for most people, in the hills above Cuzco is where the real celebration takes place.
Take an imagination about an ancient castle with towered walls located in the fields. More closely; their structure unveils a beautiful work of art in Peru. These uniquely designed stones well organized and fit to one another where even a credit card could not fit. This kind of structuring provides an earthquake proof place and done without binds.
Against all these, a dramatic perspective arises. For the year leading up to this ceremony, hundreds of actors are selected to represent ancient Incan historical figures, Incan priests, priestesses and Incan princesses. Clothing, dances, music and actors should all be prepared for the celebration of this tradition and when everything is in the right place, their hope of having their crops grow will happen.
When the actual day of the Inti Raymi comes, ceremonial activities will take place on the Temple of the Sun located in the Corianconcha which is known to be the holy of holies. An invocation to the Sun is given by the Sapa Inca in the square, as he calls for a blessing from the Sun. He will then be seated in a golden throne and then carried towards the Sacsayhuaman castle. Priests, court officials and other known public figures in their tradition will then follow the procession as they wear gold and silver costumes.
The Snake for the underworld, Puma for life, and Condor for the heavens are narrated and represented by the priests. A holy Coca leaf reading will be asked for permission as they believe this to be for the empire’s future then fire will be reawaken. In a very realistic moment, the high priest (apparently) sacrifices a white llama, holding up its heart in honor of Pachamama. This serves as an assurance that people will have bountiful crops for the following cycle of the year.
This celebration allows the natives to gather with their colorful attires and enjoy the event in a yearly basis. Once the booming of the drums and the sounding instruments begin to roll, you will feel comfortable in enjoying a great wonder. This is a day to recapture the spirit and values of their ancestors, a celebration of cultural pride. Consider yourself to be lucky once you get the opportunity of joining this kind of celebration.