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From Peru: Inti Raymi

inti raymi

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The stage at Saqsaywaman for the ceremony.

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El Inca (King) being paraded around.

Every year on the 24th of June, thousands of people gather in Cusco for Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Sun.

Before the Spanish conquest of the Incan Empire, the Incas celebrated Inti Raymi in Huacaypata, what is now the Plaza de Armas of Cusco.  This ancient ceremony was carried out each year coinciding with the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year when the sun is furthest from Earth.  The Incas gathered together from each of the four suyos (sides) of Tawantinsuyo (territory of the Incan Empire) to invoke the Sun God to return closer.  The culmination of the ceremony was making an offering to the Sun deity; the Incas always found the plumpest, youngest, blackest llama to sacrifice to the Sun, asking for in return that the Sun bring good harvest and protection against hunger and famine.

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La Qolla (Queen).

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Jungle people dancing in celebration.

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Inti Raymi at Saqsaywaman.

After Spanish conquest, in the 16th Century, the Spaniards banned the celebration of Inti Raymi because of its Pagan nature.  Nearly four centuries later, in 1944, Inti Raymi was resurrected in theatrical form.  The celebration nowadays occurs in three acts.  The opening act is at Q’orikancha, the Incan temple.  This is followed by the second act in the Plaza de Armas.  The third and final act, concluding the nine hour celebration, is at Saqsaywaman, the ancient fortress just outside the city.

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El Inca (King).

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Dancing in celebration.

Inti Raymi is a living testament of the rich and endless culture that still survives in this part of the world.  Inti Raymi is also known as el Dia del Cusco, Cusco Day.  It is one of the biggest celebrations in all of South America, and it is by far the biggest celebration in Cusco.  Every 24th of June, thousands of spectators, tourists and locals alike, come to Cusco just for this.

-Kezia Huseman

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