【Inti Raymi】Calling for the Sun in the Centre of the Inca Empire

By GreaterGo Editor
8 May 2024

Calling for the Sun in the Centre of the Inca Empire

On the 24th of June, the day of the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere, the annual Inti Raymi Festival takes place in Peru. The Inti Raymi is the second largest traditional carnival in South America after the Rio Carnival in Brazil. The Incas believed that their ancestors were sun gods and that the sun not only brought them good harvests, but also chased away the cold from the highlands. Every year on the winter solstice, when the sun is farthest away from the Inca Empire and the sun shines the least, a great festival is held in Cuzco, the former capital of the Inca Empire, to pray for the return of the sun.

In the week leading up to the Sun Festival, the Plaza de Armas in the centre of Cusco is filled with daily parades, songs, dances and other celebrations. The highlight of the festival are the traditional ceremonies, which begin at the ruins of the Temple of the Sun, slowly make their way to the Plaza de Armas to the accompaniment of Inca classical music, and end at the Castle of Sacsayhuaman, where the festival is held. Along the way, the crowds cheer and the streets are packed.

The ceremony is followed by spontaneous celebrations. The whole city is transformed into a performance venue where people dressed in colourful traditional costumes sing and dance to the rhythm of the music, soaking in the festive atmosphere. Flags fly throughout the city and bazaars are filled with local snacks and handicrafts.

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