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How do you celebrate inta raymi in Peru?


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January 11, 2010 6:40PM

Before the colonial Spaniards banned the ceremonial events occurring each Winter Solstice the natives of Peru gathered to honor the Sun God, sacrifice an animal to ensure good crops and to pay homage to the Inca, as the first born Son of the Sun. The ceremonies took place at the winter solstice, when the sun is farthest from the earth. Fearing the lack of sun and ensuing famine, ceremonies were held to honor the Sun God and plead for his return. The celebrants fasted for days before the event, refrained from physical pleasures and presented gifts to the Inca, who in return put on a lavish banquet of meat, corn bread, chicha and coca tea as they prepared to sacrifice llamas to ensure good crops and fertile fields.

In 1572, Viceroy Toledo banned Inti Raymi celebrations as pagan and contrary to the Catholic faith. Following the edict, the ceremonies went underground.

Today, it is the second largest festival in South America. Hundreds of thousands of people converge on Peru from other parts of, South America and the world for a week long celebration marking the beginning of a new year, the Inti Raymi, or the Festival of the Sun. The centerpiece of the festival is the all-day celebrations on June 24, the actual day of Inti Raymi. the ceremonial events begin with an invocation by the Sapa Inca. The Sapa Inca calls on the blessings from the sun. Following the oration, Sapa Inca is carried on a golden throne in a procession to the ancient fortress in the hills above Cuzco Peru. With the Sapa Inca come the high priests, dressed in ceremonial robes, then officials of the court, nobles and others, all costumed according to their rank, with silver and gold ornaments. They parade along flower strewn streets, to music and prayers and dancing. Women sweep the streets to clear them of evil spirits. Speeches made and sacrifices over (Modern day celebrations act out the sacrifice and no animal is harmed) the sun begins to set, stacks of straw are set on fire and the celebrants dance around them to honor the Empire of the Four Wind Directions. Blessings on the people are given and a new year has begun.