Inti Raymi – When God becomes the “Sun”

Surely never or almost never you had the opportunity to witness a ceremony that took place more than 400 years ago. Precisely that is what happens every year in the city of Cusco. This ceremony takes place every June 24. If you have had the opportunity to witness the living culture around the world, you know how important this is for the local culture. Such important event is named Inti Raymi, meaning accurately the celebration of the sun. If you have ever been touring Asia or Europe and stopped to see a crowd or a parade and wonder what it is? or when you start to
distinguish impressive costumes and colorful costumes, don’t you get the curiosity to know what it is about? Well, we suggest you heed your instincts and go to investigate a bit of what it is.

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Let´s start by asking what this staging is. Who are the character so lavishly dressed that appear in the photos and on which emerges suddenly on the others loaded on litter on the shoulders of his subjects? This character is the Inca, a true celebrity of this show. A curious fact that some travelers notice is that the Inca almost never walks on foot and you will notice his arrogant look, part of the incredible drama that you will be able to appreciate. He is the one who is accompanied by hundreds of people who participate among his army of warriors, high members, and maidens,  on this man fell all the power. From this moment you will no longer be in the 21st century. Not this day.


A bit of History.

Let´s take a look at what this colorful show is about. During the Inca Empire, there were many political-religious ceremonies of great importance. To mention, one of them was the Capac Raymi that was celebrated in December and the second the Inti Raymi, precisely this was for some experts the most important, although it is not known for certain. On this occasion, the Incas did it every June 21st, the same date as the winter solstice, when the sun is at its most distant point from the earth. For the Incas, time was not linear, but a cyclical issue. The sun in its enormous influence came and returned reaching its peak in these two dates. The Incas in their advanced astronomical
knowledge knew that this date was important not only because it marked a change of season but because it also acquired a religious and practical importance within their way of life. Shortly after the invading conquerors arrived in this city, in 1572 this festival was banned as too pagan and contrary to the Catholic faith, although the celebration continued underground. But why 24 and not 21? There is a very simple explanation regarding the date, in the 40s, the Cusquenian intellectual Faustino Espinosa, wanted to relive this celebration by assembling the historical
reconstruction of the event. And as a kind of marketing strategy, it was especially thought to be carried out on the 24th because at that time the president had declared a non-working holiday for the “countryman”, besides being the day of an important saint: San Juan. This worked wonderfully. Since then, the celebration was massive. It began to become custom for the locals, it was the reason for families to go and get distracted by such a show.


The ceremony The act begins in the temple of Santo Domingo, the first stage of the ceremony from where a
vehement speech is given by the Inca from the temple of the sun in his native language: Quechua;. Then follows the road to the ruins of what was an ancient temple that served as a fortress, Sacsayhuaman. There are more than 700 artists who participate in this act, you can appreciate up close the colorful costumes like those worn by priests, squires, flag bearers and Inca maidens. It awakens a certain curiosity to know that it would feel to go back in time and see a completely different world. For instance, some colors had a lot of meaning for them as well as the symbols used, for example, red represented blood and force, black as opposed to commonly represented purity. The governors: the Inca and his wife the “Qoya”, are taken by more than 20 young males. Continue their way through the main square of the city until you reaching Sacsayhuaman, an incredible stage prepared especially for the occasion, which you will have the opportunity to see if you decide to complete the experience. Places are designated as a kind of outdoor concert. The Inca and his priests deliberate important aspects of the empire. The curaca, the main priest, sees in the coca leaves the future to come. If it is not favorable once again the drama takes place with a mixture of emotions. Finally, in the Usnu, a scenario located in the central part is where the final act of sacrifice is represented, which is usually a black “llama”, this is perhaps one of the most amazing highlights of the show. The priests also see in the blood the future that the empire holds.

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Inti raymi 2021

So, in one hand, we have the attraction and on the other hand the true meaning of the ceremony. Some think it should be celebrated on June 21 to fit with the winter solstice, so it would acquire a more real focus and give the party another touch. Without a doubt, it is something that must remain, without losing its essence and meaning. As the saying goes, one loves what is known, if you know a bit about the subject you can realize how exciting it can be. It is the exotic air that we often like to see every time we go to a different country. Everyone has their own, this time

without a doubt, you will be intrigued and fascinated with such performance.

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