The Sun, that gives us light and supports life, has been at the center of supernatural beliefs in many cultures around the world. Inti Raymi, or the Festival of the Sun, is one of the major festivals dedicated to the Sun, and is celebrated in Cusco, Peru, on the 24th of June every year. Cusco was once the capital of the Inca empire. Incan culture was based on a profound connection with nature. This relationship was celebrated through religious rituals and ceremonies demonstrating their appreciation of the Sun God for providing them with sustenance. This festival was mainly the celebration of winter solstice but it was banned by the catholic church during the 1570s, because it was considered a pagan ritual.
It’s only in 1942 that this festival has been re-created in Cusco. The main ceremony of Inti Raymi is now practiced in the Saqsaywaman fortress, a hilltop complex of ruins overlooking the city of Cusco housing huge stone ruins carefully placed together over 500 years ago during the height of the empire. Thousands of tourists attend this ceremony and the city itself comes alive with colorful scenery and other exhibitions.
About 500 people take part in recreating this ancient ceremony. For representation, El Inca
(Incan Emperor, who originally claimed to be a direct descendant of the Sun God), his wife and followers dress in traditional costumes and give speeches in their native language, Quechua. The other participants dressed in the most vibrant clothes, perform a simulation of animal sacrifice offered to the Sun God, and princesses and soldiers lead a colorful procession in the city. Other participants wear feathers
, scarves, masks and carry spears, and form figures in rhythmic jumping, shouting in praise of the sun, to the rhythm of flutes and drums. The main character is the Inca, who is chosen through a contest of skill and his appearance is stunning, in a litter carried by eight subjects, wearing a suit with the colors of their region, gold bracelets and an ornament of feathers on the head.
The weather that time is usually pleasant with temperatures varying from 12 to 25 degrees Celsius. It gets really cold during the night, varying from zero degree to five degrees on occasions. Make sure you carry jacket or other warm clothes. Closed shoes are a good idea as well. It will be sunny in the afternoon, so sunscreen and a hat are a must. You may choose to wear feather head dress
as part of your costume. Pair it with light brown leather jacket, ankle high boots
and denim to complete your look. Or you may choose to wear a bohemian knee length dress with knee length boots and jacket with a decorative head dress.
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