June is the month of “Fiestas de Cusco” and here in this magical place we have been celebrating all the festivals: the rebuilding of the Q´eswachaka Bridge, Qoyllur Rit´i, Corpus Christi, and the other daily parades in the Plaza de Armas. The city is growing with anticipation as the biggest and most important celebration, Inti Raymi, is coming up soon. This Festival of the Sun takes place on June 24th when the sun is farthest away from the earth. This traditional, Inca celebration worships the sun and pleads for its return.
Before the conquistadores from Spain came to Cusco, the Incas believed they were the children of the Sun. Each year the Incas would ask the sun to draw closer to them so that it would not lose itself in the empty and dark space of the universe. They also asked for prosperity: good harvests and protection against hunger. Before, only the royal family and other special people were able to enter the city and participate in the religious ceremony. Later, at the peak of the Empire, around 50,000 people came from the countryside to bring offerings to the elites and participate in Inti Raymi. In order for the peopleof Cusco to participate they had to fast for nine days and then afterwards there were nine days of feasts and banquets.
Nowadays, people from different places and economic statuses come to share in this grand event. Inti Raymi is extremely special for the people of Cusco, as it is one of the few Inca traditions that survived the Spaniards attempts to end any pagan festivals. Today it is one of the biggest displays of Inca culture in Cusco. The procession with the image of the Inca Emperor on his throne starts in Qorikancha and ends in Sacsayhuaman where a live demonstration of the traditional celebration takes place. The reenactment is in Quechua, the native language of the Andean people, and is done in the traditional attire of the Inca people. Sacsayhuamn, an ancient fortress, is surrounded with seating where the viewers can see the presentation well and packed with other people standing and sitting in any free space available. Locals sell food and lay down tarps to rent out to people who would like to sit there. In order to watch the ceremony it is necessary to arrive very early in the morning.
Tourists and visitors are in for a treat as Inti Raymi is a presentation of the Inca past coming to life. It allows the people today to experience the sacred customs of the Incas, displaying the colorful and beautiful history of Cusco, Peru.