Inty Raymi Tour ‘Festival of the Sun’ 24 de junio

Held yearly on June 24 of every year Inti Raymi (or ‘festival of the Sun’ in Quechua) was an ancient Andean religious ceremony in honor of Inti (Father Sun). It took place every winter solstice in the Andes. The Inti Raymi was the most important of the four festivals celebrated in Cusco (as related by Inca Garcilaso de la Vega; 1539-1616).

It signified the beginning of a new cycle (since the Inca held that time was circular rather than linear or chronological) as the sun Father started to return closer to His children, longer days and the beginning of the planting season. Their celebration lasted 15 days with dances and sacrifices.

Koricancha, The Temple of the Sun

The first character to appear is the Sinchi (army general) accompanied by his bodyguards and The Imperial Army carrying the mummy. Next come the dancing the Aqllas (chosen women), the tika t’akaqkunas (women who throw flowers).

The pichaqkunas are the cleanerswho follow everyone. All this is done with music pututos, flutes (sort of made of hollow reed trumpets) and Tiny (small drums). The Inca and his wife, qoya are the last to appear after the royal entourage and nobility. Accompanying the Inca is the high priest, offering chicha to the their deity the Sun. This procession makes it way to the main square where the second act begins.

Plaza de Armas (Main Square)

A large huaca, built in the Plaza de Armas of Cusco, is the scene of the second act. Again, it is the duty of the Sinchi and the bodyguards to be the first to arrive to review the site for safety before the Inca arrives. The qoya enter the main square on a litter, accompanied by the aqllas and busts followed by nobility and finally the Incas. The Inca goes to the top of the Huaca to perform the rite of coca to the Sun God. They strip the coca leaves and the high priest asks The Inca to guess the will of Sun East, with the help of another priest, Akul kuraq. Finally the procession heads 5km up to Sacsayhuaman above the city of Cusco.

Sacsayhuaman: Inti Raymi Festival

The esplanade of the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, with its megalithic walls, is the site of the most important ceremony of the Festival of the Sun. It begins with the sound of pututos and fit. The sinchi, accompanied by four officers of his guard, comes to usnu (ceremonial platform), and check that everything is secure and in order. After his direction the army enters the stage followed by delegations from the four corners of the Empire (The four relatives). A chasqui announce, with the playing of a pututo, that the Inca is about to arrive.

When he does he is received by the sinchi and bodyguards on the usnu, where he can see all the people, dancers, musicians, animals and the army. The delegates report as heads of each regions and the umu willaq begins the rite of chicha. The Inca offers to the sun then pours another glass in a channel leading to the Temple of the Sun. They drink the chicha and repeat the toast. The umu willaq begins the fire ritual by lighting the fire. The Willka kamayoq girl, lights the central fire of the esplanade and the messengers do the same with their surrounding fires. Now is the time to sacrifice of the flame.

The Tarpuntay, priest calls up the black flame to the usnu tenderer. The high priest faces the Sun With a tumi (ceremonial knife) and opens the left side of the sacrificial animal to remove the heart and make offerings to the Sun. The kallparikuq reads the slaughtered animal entrails, the wirapirikuq predict the future by reading the animal fat and the yawarpirikuq, divines the future by examining the animal’s spilled blood. Following these rituals the wirapirikuq burns the entrails in the central fire. If the umu willaq is satisfied with the future by the smoke from the fire The Inca is satisfied and the festival ends with a blessing to all. The Inca departs the festival on his litter followed by the dancers and musicians.