“Father Sun, my Father,” the Inca shouts as he presides over the Inti Raymi ceremony, in honor of the Inca Sun God.
Inti, the sun god, source of all wealth, king of heaven, plants, and the universe is limited to his head.
The Inca Sun God, the Moon and the stars formed the core of the Inca pantheon.
As a solar god, Inti is closely related to agriculture, since the sun as a celestial body provides the fields with the light and heat they need to grow crops.
It was believed that Inti was the son of Viracocha, the creator of the universe and his wife, Mama Cocha, the goddess of the sea.
In a certain version of an Inca legend, Viracocha had two daughters besides Inti: Pachamama and Mama Quilla.
The first was worshiped as goddess of the earth, while the second was the goddess of the moon.
Mama Quilla was considered by the Incas to be Inti’s wife, in addition to her sister.
Inti exerted a powerful influence on the lives of the Incas.
They believed that Inti controlled their agricultural activities, thus being vital to their existence.
Although Inti was usually a benevolent and generous god, he was also capable of becoming terribly angry, and solar eclipses were considered a manifestation of his discontent.
Historians believe that the Inca Sun Temple in Cusco was built during the reign of Pachacuteq Inca Yupanqui, 9th Inca emperor. Coricancha was destroyed by the Spanish conquerors, and most of its stones were used to build a church instead.
The location of the Inca Sun Temple, called Coricancha (word that means ‘Casa del Sol’), located in the ancient Inca capital of Cusco, was dedicated to the Sun God.
The Inca Sun Calendar was determined from the observation of the Sun and the Moon. Around the city of Cusco there were twelve pillars arranged in such a way that in each month one of them indicated where the sun was rising and where it was setting.
These pillars were called sucanga; and with them the parties and times of sowing and harvesting were announced.
The 360-day year was divided into 12 moons of 30 days each. Each moon corresponded to festivities and daily activities such as the following:
The Inca Sun Worship start before dawn, when the emperor, his family and the people headed in solemn procession to the main square of Cuzco where they silently waited for the rising sun, whose apparition was received with jubilation.
Everyone present knelt down then and the Inca offered chicha to the Inca Sun God in a silver bowl.
Then they marched to the Coricancha, where the sacred fire was rekindled by the use of mirrors.
The Inca Sun Worship was accompanied with dances and sacrifices of grain, flowers and animals, which were burned in bonfires.
There was also a special festival that the Incas celebrated in honor of the Inca Sun God. It was known as Inti Raymi Festival, and was celebrated on the occasion of the winter solstice, in the month of June.
During the Inca Sun Festival, which lasted several days, white llamas and other animals were sacrificed in honor of the sun god. The Inca Sun Festival is still celebrated today throughout the Andean region, in countries such as Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru. For a full experience in Cusco is recommended to visit Machu Picchu after Inti Raymi festival.
During the Inti Raymi celebration, the entire centre of Cusco is closed to regular traffic including local buses and taxis.
Only tourist vehicles are allowed to transport tourists from Cusco to Saqsayhuman.
If you are attending Saqsayhuman independently, then you can expect to walk to Saqsayhuman from Cusco, which takes approximately 1 hour.
If you can’t make it to Cusco for June 24, don’t despair!
You can see folk dances and performers in traditional Inca costume in the Plaza de Armas at any point in the two weeks leading up to the festival. In fact, there are some tours that let you know better the Inca culture!