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Festival of the Sun, Peru

Festival of the Sun

The Inti Raymi is a religious ceremony of the Inca Empire in honor of the god Inti (Quechua for "sun"), one of the most venerated deities in Inca religion. It was the celebration of the winter solstice - the shortest day of the year in terms of the time between sunrise and sunset and the Inca New Year. In territories south of the equator the gregorian months of June and July are winter months.

During the Inca Empire, the Inti Raymi was the most important of four ceremonies celebrated in Cusco, as related by Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. The celebration took place in the Haukaypata or the main plaza in the city.

According to chronicler Garcilaso de la Vega, Sapa Inca Pachacuti created the Inti Raymi to celebrate the new year in the Andes of the Southern Hemisphere. The ceremony was also said to indicate the mythical origin of the Incas. It lasted for nine days and was filled with colorful dances and processions, as well as animal sacrifices to thank Pachamama and to ensure a good cropping season.The first Inti Raymi was in 1412. The last Inti Raymi with the Inca Emperor's presence was carried out in 1535, after which the Spanish and the Catholic priests banned it.