The Inti Raymi or Feast of the Sun is one of the main traditions of the Andean world. It is a thanksgiving festival to the harvests, especially to the corn harvest. In the Incas Era, it was the most important of the four festivals held in Cusco, because it meant that half a year was gone as well as the mythical origin of the Inca. Back then it lasted 15 days, with dances and sacrifices. Because it is traditional indigenous holiday each ethnic group and each community has its own date and time of celebration.
In Ecuador, it begins on June 21st, which coincides with the June solstice and harvests. Some of the biggest feasts are organized in places like Peguche, Cotacachi, and Ingapirca. As mentioned, the rituals of this Feast vary in each community, but usually, the ritual begins with the Armay Chishi a ritual bath for spiritual purification, the recovery of energies and to reconnect with Mother Nature.
Then on the Hatun Puncha or biggest day, dancers fill the main squares of the communities stomping the floor as a symbol of waking up to earth so that they can feel the wealth and the strength that it has. The dancers will go in circles, reproducing the movement of translation and rotation of the earth, and will also imitate the movement of a serpent, creature that in the Kichwa people symbolize wisdom.
Guiding the dancers, you will find the Aya Uma, a mythological character who wears a mask with two faces and twelve horns. The two sides of the mask represent the day and the night, and the horns represent the twelve months of the year. Music will play a vital part of the celebration, and traditional Andean instruments will be heard all the time.
In all the communities, it is an honor to receive and share food and drinks with the dancer, so the Inti Raymi celebrations are a part of every family in a community; be a part of these celebrations yourself and reconnect with the Pachamama!
Keywords: Inti Raymi, Andean feast, dancers, Aya Uma, Pachamama, Ecuador, retirement, entertainment.
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