Inti Raymi: The Festival of the Sun and the Harvests
The Inti Raymi is an Andean ancestral celebration that is carried out during the winter solstice (southern hemisphere) on June 21 of each year. According to some historians, this celebration was established by the Inca Pachacútec in 1430, as a way of thanking Inti (Sun) and Pachamama (Mother Earth) for the abundance of the harvests.
However, according to other authors, it is thought that similar festivities were already celebrated in the Andean world long before the consolidation of the Inca empire.
Today the Inti Raymi remains an important festival for many indigenous communities of the Andes in countries such as Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.
We are going to get to know one of the most representative Inti Raymis in Ecuador: the one that is celebrated in Ingapirca, in the province of Cañar.
The Archaeological Complex
Ingapirca is a parish in the province of Cañar located 80km north of the city of Cuenca. Here is the main archaeological complex in the country, which bears the same name as the parish, which in Kichwa means “Inca wall”.
Due to its construction style, it has been inferred that the Ingapirca complex was built by the Cañaris and Incas, between 500 – 1532 AD. It is made up of an immense set of stone structures, housing foundations, terraces and cobbled paths that cover an approximate surface of 20 hectares.
Ingapirca was an important religious, political, scientific, military and administrative center, whose core was the Castle, or the Temple of the Sun. It is built with green andesite stone and volcanic stone and is the main attraction of this archaeological complex.
It is located on an oval-shaped embankment whose main axis is oriented almost exactly in an east-west direction, with the purpose of carrying out the main rituals of the cult of the Sun. In the archaeological site you will find sections such as the Aposentos, the Plaza, the Condamine sector, Pillaloma, the Collcas, etc. There is also a site museum that is located 500 meters away. of the complex, which has an archaeological reserve of 2,472 ceramic, metal and stone pieces belonging to the Narrio, Cañari and Inca cultures.
In Ingapirca, the Inti Raymi is celebrated for several days, usually between June 17 and 23. The program usually begins the morning of the first day with the ritual gratitude ceremony, after which musical and dance groups from the different communities in the sector perform.
An important part of the celebrations in Ingapirca is the “Pampamesa” ritual of gratitude in which typical foods of the area are shared with all those present: corn, potatoes, melloco, goose, mashua, beans, pumpkins, guinea pig, etc. Also on the first day, the “Ñusta” (Princess) of the Inti Raymi is chosen.
During the festival, gastronomic fairs, art and craft exhibitions and a traditional cultural parade of Cañari weaving and clothing are held.
Frequently, the Research and Interpretation Center of the Ingapirca Archaeological Complex develops talks with the participation of representatives of the Cañari, Salasaca, Otavalo and Saraguro peoples, who share about their cultural manifestations and experiences around the celebration.
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