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Inti Raymi – Inca ceremony in honor of the Sun God “Inti”

Around 5 centuries ago, at the time of the conquest, the Spanish wanted and tried to eradicate indigenous faith and beliefs and to impose Catholicism on the Incas, but today, you can still appreciate that people continue asking and thanking their “apus” or gods as the snowcapped Andes, the lightning, the moon and other deities, with special offerings. Proof of this is the staging of the grand festival of Inti Raymi, which is given every year in the city of Cusco.Inti Raymi - Festival of the Sun, Faith and Majesty

Inti Raymi, Quechua word meaning “Festival of the Sun”, was instituted by the Inca Pachacutec; in the time of the Incas it was the largest Andean religious ceremony that was given with the purpose of worshipping and giving offerings to the Inti or Sun God as it was the their major god and believed that they owed him their existence. In addition, the Inca and the nobility were considered children of the sun, which is why the Incas used to show their gratitude for the food they got throughout the past year and asked abundance for the next during the celebration.

This party could be recreated thanks to the writings of chroniclers such as the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, who said it was the biggest celebration of the city at that time and the chiefs and nobles used to attend it wearing their best costumes. Everything was prepared in advance for this big celebration and everyone use to wait barefoot, with open arms and giving kisses to the air for the sunrise at the main square “Huacaypata” on this central day.

Also, in the writings, it was described how the Inca used to invoke the Sun and toasted with chicha, drink made of fermented corn, with his relatives; the chicha used to be poured into a vat of gold. Everybody used to go to the Koricancha to worship the sun and priests used to give the sun their offerings. Another important fact was that of the sacrifice of the livestock whose meat was then distributed among them; besides, they used to celebrate drinking chicha and eating biscuits prepared by the virgins of the sun “ñustas”, during this and the following days.

The big party in honor to the Sun God in its contemporary version has taken place since 1944; at present it is given in three historical stages of the city of Cusco: at the Koricancha, temple dedicated to the sun which was ordered to be built by the Inca Pachakuteq, at the Plaza Mayor of Cusco, formerly called Huacaypata and at Sacsayhuaman archaeological complex.

Currently, there is a very similar representation of the Inti Raymi; the Inca and the Coya participate by being carried by a retinue of soldiers and women “ajllas”. The head of the Inca nobility invokes the Sun and then receives a report of the four regions of the Inca Empire “Tahuantinsuyo”: Qollasuyu, Kuntisuyu, Antisuyu and Chinchaysuyu. There the rite of the sacred Chicha, the rite of fire and the rite of the holy bread or Sankhu are recreated; there is also the sacrifice of the flame and the outbreak of popular excitement known as the q’ochurikuy.

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