On the 24th of June, there would have been a spectacular party in Peru. Sadly, COVID-19 threw a spanner in the works. On this day, the annual holiday Inti Raymi is usually celebrated, also called the ‘festival of the sun’. The Incas considered this to be the most important festival of the year. In the first place, one of their most worshipped gods, Inti, is worshipped. Besides, the feast is like ‘New Year’ for them because, from this day onwards, the light hours of the sun start to extend again.
The first Inti Raymi was already celebrated in 1412. During this time, the party lasted 9 days and was filled with colorful dances, processions, and animal sacrifices. They did this to thank Pachamama, the most important god for the indigenous people of the Andean region, and to guarantee a good harvest season.
Like many other Inca religious practices, the holiday was banned in 1536 by the Spanish settlers and their Catholic priests. Fortunately, this special day came back to the surface on June 24 in 1944, when a historical reconstruction of the holiday was organized. Since this day, an annual theatrical representation of Inti Raymi is performed in which various indigenous actors give the best of themselves. This attracts thousands of tourists every year.
For the poorer population, including the families with whom Oye LENA works, it is, unfortunately, more difficult to celebrate this beautiful feast as the many visitors do. When you want to visit the theatrical act at the historical location in Cuzco, the costs can be very high. An entrance ticket for the spectacle is therefore often too expensive for a large part of the people.
A day full of tradition
The ‘modern Inti Raymi’ still uses the traditional colorful costumes including the striking woven Aya Hama masks. Also, the celebrations with music and traditional dance steps are still present. The animal sacrifices, however, are no longer performed on this day.
The holiday ends with a bonfire and a procession where people, in the company of a fictitious Sun King and his wife, return to Cuzco. When they arrive there, the Sun King speaks to the people for the last time.
With regret in the heart, this holiday was canceled because of the coronavirus. Because an enormous number of people gather on this day, this would not be safe and following the measures taken to prevent further spread of the virus. One thing is certain: in 2021, it will be a fabulous edition!
Want to know more about this holiday?
Check out this video: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=281200819959235!