The Inti Raymi Festival – What to Expect?

Festival Inti Raymi

Peru has so much extraordinary places and festivities that one could never could finish to tell

Every year, the month of June dresses up in Cusco as it is a month of celebrations; there are dances, processions, ceremonies, shows that involve both locals and people from everywhere over the world.

The best known worldwide is the festival of the Inti Raymi. The Inti Raymi was a religious ceremony of the Inca Empire in honor of the god (Inti), one of the most venerated deities in Inca Religion. It was the celebration of the winter solstice and became an important festivity to the religious, ceremonial, social and political ambience that extended through the entire Tahuantisuyo (Inca Empire). After the Spanish conquest, the catholic church banned the Inti Raymi celebrations in the 1570s, pushing them underground and almost into obscurity.

As said, the Inti Raymi is the most important festival of the Inca Empire. Every June 24, the Sun God is the protagonist of one of the most important and traditional festivities celebrated in Peru: The Inti Raymi or “Sun Festival”. During this date, thousands of national and foreign tourists walk the streets of the historic center of Cusco and congregate on the esplanades of its main sites to experience a special day of cultural activities whose purpose is to revalue the Inca legacy.

There are more than 800 people, including actors, dancers, and musicians who – dressed in typical clothing – star in a series of scenes that include dances, performances and praises performed outside the temple of Qorikancha and the Sacsayhuamán Archaeological Park, as well as in the Main Square of the city.

Today, the tradition is maintained as a theatrical performance charged with mysticism and spirituality. The celebration route begins at Qorikancha, the ancient religious center of the Inca capital, where with dances and songs an offering is made to the Apu Inti or Sun God.

Once the first act is finished in the esplanade of the Qorikancha or Temple of the Sun, the attendees go to the Main Square to witness the continuation of the ceremony. It is said that in this place, known as Haukaypata in the Inca times, where the most important people of the empire used to gather during the night before the celebration to await the appearance of Apu Inti. With silence and with great respect they awaited the dawn, and when the star ascended between the mountains, the villagers gave thanks for the prosperous harvests of the year.

The extensive field of the esplanade of Sacsayhuamán is the site of the third and last act: the most important of the day, which lasts approximately two hours. Here, the Inca and his entourage arrive to pay their respects and admiration to the Sun. The Inca recites a prayer in the Quechua language and simulates the sacrifice of a camelid so that a shaman can predict the prosperity and well-being of the coming year.

The triumphant return of the Sun in the shortest day and in the longest night renews nature and is a cause for rejoicing and celebration. The Inti Raymi is not an exclusive celebration of Cusco, as most Andean populations continue to present their offerings every June 24 in countries such as Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, northern Argentina and Colombia. On this date is also celebrated the anniversary of Cusco, in which the city is wrapped in an atmosphere of celebration and fun that you should attend.

On March 3, 2001, the Inti Raymi was declared Cultural Patrimony of the Nation. Its organization and production are now in charge of the Municipal Company of Celebrations of Cusco (EMUFEC).

Inti raymi Qory Cancha

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