Inti Raymi, elements that bind us to the Sun God

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Inti Raymi celebration takes place along the Andean region. This ancient Inca tradition comes by the end of June and early July as a thanksgiving ceremony to the Pachamama (Mother Earth in Quechua) and the Inti, the Sun God, for the harvests and the blessings received throughout the year. It’s one of the most important parties of the indigenous communities in the Andean world. Get to know their main characters and the elements that makes this party a true cultural festival.

“Aya Uma”, the cosmic order:

The Aya Uma is the main character of the Inti Raymi festivity. It’s name is compound of two quechua words: Aya meaning ‘strength’, ‘energy’, ‘Nature’s power’ or ‘spirit’ and the word Uma meaning ‘head’, ‘guide’ or ‘leader’; so the Spaniards fear of death, ignorance and religious indoctrination mistakenly changed its name and meaning to “Diablo Uma”, ‘devil’s head’.

The Aya Uma is the symbol of the whole, the past and the future on a single head that looks both ways. It’s the duality of the world representing in one single character the north and the south, above and below, day and night simultaneously. Over its head 12 snakes represent the ancient Andean knowledge, and therefore its wisdom, and its four ears represent the four cardinal directions and the four elements of life. At last, its rainbow colors represent the Wiphala, the flag for all the indigenous battles.

During the main day of celebration, June 22, the Aya Uma gathers on itself all the energy required to tie the Earth to the cosmos. He dances on three tempos to reconnect the Earth, the Sun and the Moon.

“Taqueador”, the party guy:

Its voice and message ignites the party and guides the group through chants, refrains and traditional songs. They walk the city’s streets inviting others to join the celebration. He is also in charge of sharing some booze with the assistants, something that makes the call more attractive.

“Chacana”, the connection space:

Ancient symbol of the connection with the Cosmos, it has the shape of a cross of equal sides and it’s a very important element for the Andean culture. During the celebrations and rituals a huge Chacana is decorated with flowers, fruits, grains, candles and plants. At the main celebration day, June 22, it becomes the main ritual site to give thanks to the Pachamama for its generosity on the crops. Each direction of the Chacana has a meaning and its symmetry means that balance that humans need to get closer to Nature and the cosmos.

“Aruchicos”, the happy music:

Leading the celebration with guitar tunes, “rondas” and “tundas”. Dressed in a goat leather “zamarro”, a “poncho” of several colors highlighting the red, a large scarf covering his head, a hat with colored ribbons and a mask made with a wire mesh. In addition, it has a cape made out of cow’s leather with some hanging bronze bells that resonates strongly when dancing. It’s also a tradition for these characters to cure and protect their instruments in a sacred waterfall before the party ignites.

“Chinuca”, the feminine presence:

They are the women who accompany the group. They wear an embroidered skirt with striking colors and many folds about 0,40 inches wide. Her blouse, hat, silk scarf, scarves and necklaces gives her elegance; it’s the Andean proper attire for women.

Women sing and dance in circles, stomping around as the parade stops. In the old days, the “Chinuca” character was performed by men who wore a mask. Chinuca is derived from the term “Chinese” a colloquial word assigned to those who served in the haciendas and convents.

Celebrate this cultural festival in the center of the World and become part of the stomp that balances the Earth.


Ministry of Culture and Heritage

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