The Inti Raymi Sun Festival: A Majestic Tradition We are Proud to Celebrate
By: Pamela Rueda
You probably have heard about the many wonders that Ecuador has to offer: the mystical Galapagos Islands, our mega-diverse rainforest, and iconic old towns scattered all over the country. But have you heard about the Inti Raymi celebration? For us it is a matter of pride that we still celebrate our Incan heritage!
The Inti Raymi, or Festival of the Sun, is the most important tradition of the Inca Empire. It honors the Sun God – or Inti in Kichwa – their most important deity. In Incan times, this celebration was the equivalent to today´s Thanksgiving Day, a huge party to welcome the new agricultural year and give thanks to the Pachamama (Mother Nature) between the months of May and June, and specifically during the summer solstice.
They celebrated at this time of the year because the summer solstice had a special significance for the Incas. During this phenomenon, the sun positions itself at the most distant point from the Earth, creating the longest day and the shortest night. Therefore, during the Inti Raymi, the Incas would pray to the God Sun with hallucinative rituals and dances to entreat it to come back, thanking it for the precious gift of more hours in the day for harvesting food, and celebrating its return to bless the Pachamama and initiate a new cycle of life.
Today, the Inti Raymi is celebrated in all the countries that once formed a part of the Incan Empire. In Ecuador, in particular, the Inti Raymi is celebrated between the 18th and 24th of June. On this special occasion, the indigenous people practice a day-long ritual that takes us back to the time when the powerful Incan Empire ruled South America.
Anyone who has joined in an Inti Raymi celebration can confirm that when the festival begins, the sun smiles and shines more strongly than ever. The typical rainbow-coloured attire and majestic golden crowns illuminate community celebrations where the participants choose their beautiful Sun Princess, dance to the rhythm of folkloric music and enjoy the delicious typical food harvested from their dear Pacha Mama, filling the environment with gratitude, joy and ancestral pride.
For Ecuadorians, the Inti Raymi is not just a show or a simple ritual. For us, it is a great opportunity to bring back to life ancestral traditions, see our amazing mix of cultures celebrating together, reunite with our ayllus (or family), embrace the time of ranti-ranti (or reciprocity) and contribute to preserving this amazing cultural expression in the hearts of every Ecuadorian.
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