The Inti Raymi festival is one of the biggest and most impressive celebrations in Peru. It is a homage to the Sun, an important God in Inca Culture. The Inti Raymi is celebrated every June 24th – one of the shortest days in the southern hemisphere marking the beginning of a new year in the Andean´s Cosmovision.
The Sacsaywaman fortress, located just outside Cuzco is where the Inti Raymi festival takes place and it is was originally the most majestic and greatest of festivals of the Inca Empire. Today, the Inti Raymi evokes the splendid Inca ritual of yore, being carefully scripted by Cusco professors, archaeologists and historians.
On the day thousands of actors proudly bring the past alive, giving thanks to the sun god. The Inti Raymi starts in the square in front of the Qorikancha in Cuzco – also known as the Santo Domingo. The Sapa Inca honours, with an eloquently strong voice, the blessings of the Sun and after this initiation the procession moves with imperial dignity to Sacsaywaman.
At the top of the hill the Inca is carried on a royal litter and on arrival at the fortress the high priest performs the llama sacrifice offering a black and white llama. With a sharp ceremonial golden knife called a Tumi” he opens the animal’s chest. With his hands, he pulls out its throbbing heart, lungs and viscera and examines them, so he can predict the future. Later, the animal and its parts were completely incinerated.
After the sacrifice, the High Priest had to produce the “Sacred Fire”, where, standing in front of the Sun he had to get its rays in a concave gold medallion that contained a soft or oily material in order to produce the fire that had to be kept for the next year in the Qorikancha cathedral.
Once the ritual stages of the Inti Raymi were finished a huge celebration took place, with food music and dancing.