The meaning of the INTIRAYMI festival

From a social anthropological perspective, there are no higher or lower cultures, but rather different cultural formations throughout history that respond to particular social, material and spiritual conditions.

When the Spanish invaders arrived on the Abya Yala continent, they found many highly developed cultures. Its administration was based on very well-structured principles, rules and codes that enabled a just life and harmony between all people and between them and nature.

These forms of organization and the diverse knowledge of medicine, astrology, architecture and engineering were recorded through the quipus systems, which were ideographic writing systems. However, since the Spanish did not find any writing similar to the Spanish and Latin alphabets, they did not know these systems and dared to claim that the Incas had no writing. All norms, laws, history, science, rites, ceremonies, agricultural cycles, astrology, local and national forms of organization and administration were recorded in the quipus.

All this knowledge was described by various chroniclers and evangelizing priests and even today we can find it transmitted through the collective memory and experiential practices of each individual people and culture.

In the worldview of Andean people, all of nature is sacred and endowed with life. In their diverse forms of expression, the presence of the Supreme Being, the Creator and Creator of the world, is manifested. Therefore, in his philosophical conception there is the intimately connected unity of GOD-MAN-cosmos. (Bruno Frison: p. 37). In order to maintain this unity and balance, in the Andean worldview it was necessary to practice certain principles that organized all cultural activities, such as reciprocity, solidarity, duality, rites and ceremonies. A reciprocity not only between humans, but also between humans and nature and the deities. In our philosophy there were three worlds associated with cosmic principles: HANAN PACHA, cosmos, CAYPACHA, the present and real world, and UCUPACHA, the subterranean world and hidden forces. In this cosmos, humans were the axis and as such had to maintain balance. Therefore, the Inca culture organized all festivals, rites and ceremonies according to this concept.

The Incas, like the great cultures of Central America, were not pagan, they had a supreme divine creator or creator called ILLKA TICSIVIRACUCHA PACHAYACHACHIC, God who gives rise to the world, or in the Mayan language HUNABKU meant the ?Heart of Heaven?

This Creator God lived with humans and one day, after completing his teaching mission in the form of THUNUPA, he went to live in the infinite cosmos. But man, in order not to be alone and abandoned; And to maintain contact and receive blessings and favor from Pachacamac, they created communicating gods such as the sun, moon and stars. The Sun is considered the favorite son of the Great PACHACAMAC, generating light, heat, energy and life for all living things in this Pacha Cay. The other gods who created humans were emanations of the god Pachacamac and through these emanations man was able to achieve supreme divinity. The gods or lesser deities were identified with every natural phenomenon (Bruno Frison: p. 39).
This shows that the sun, as the most visible star, was the symbol of connection and the main mediator, which the Incas worshiped in the center of Tahuantinsuyu, i.e. Cuzco, and particularly venerated through rites and ceremonies. Delegations from the 4 parts or 4 Suyus were present: Chinchaisuyu, Cullasuyu, Antisuyu and Cuntisuyu.

However, in addition to the worship of the sun, in Cuzco each region, community, town, and family had its own symbol of connection and communication with the sun and Pachacamac. These gods were totems or local deities who were also worshiped and paid tribute. The people of Tahuantinsuyu were very religious and spiritual. Under this religious structure, the missionary priests established their religion and had many Christ figures, saints and virgins appear with different names and in special places of worship. In devotion to the saints, we indigenous people show respect, praise and gratitude.

Under these concepts, festivals and rituals related to the sun were introduced.

To understand what the Intiraimi festivals mean, we must start with an explanation that two types of festivals were held in Tawantinsuyu:

a) Philosophical and spiritual; And
b) Agroecological, related to Mother Nature.

These festivals expressed a cultural idea of ​​the cosmic world and deities.

Due to its organizational structure, there were two types of festivals and rituals:

1) Local rite in which the Inca, the priests and the amautas take part.

2) The general event with the participation of all residents.

The Intiraimi is located within the philosophical and spiritual festivals

The most important sun cult festivals were:

1. Capac Intiraimi celebrations, month of December. Winter solstice.

2. Pacha Pucuy and Inca Raymi, month of March, offering to the Pachamama. Spring time. Equinox.

3. Inti raymi, in June. Summer solstice.

4. Coyaraymi, in September worship of the moon. Autumn.
The Intiraimi celebrations were carried out with greater spirituality as they were the festivals of the Solstice or Father Sun.


According to the astronomical calendar, two main solar festivals took place in Tawantinsuyu: in December-January; and May-June. Since May and June are the harvest months, some chroniclers speak of the harvest festival, others of the solstice festival, since the Incas, in order to determine the day and the apparent movement of the sun, built a large solar observatory, in which there is an important point where the sun’s rays only reach Solstice and equinox enter this point.

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According to the chroniclers’ narrative, the Intiraymi celebrations begin in the month of May with the JATUNCUSQUI, after the new moon of May, the month of the great search and the deposit of the harvest, and culminate in the so-called ceremonial rite HUACAY CUSQUI, on June 21st.

To celebrate this Intiraimi festival, the Kuricancha was built in the central square of Cusco, the so-called Temple of the Sun. In this temple was placed the great solar disk – made of solid gold with a round human face and with its radiance and flames of fire placed on a large stone basin? (Garcilazo).
June is the month of harvest rest, the solstice takes place on the 21st and the Inca take advantage of this situation and celebrate the festival in the sun through ceremonies, rites and sacrifices. This festival is reserved exclusively for the Inca, the priests and amautas. It is a rite of purification and responsibility. The Inca wore a large red cloak. The Inca steps into the middle of the Curicancha, on both sides of the golden disk two lions point into the sun, the clarity shone from the windows, two blew from either side Author: María Sisapacari Bacacela Gualán
Indians, in the wind of the blow … and a bow came out, which they call Chirichy, and there in the middle stood the Inca, kneeling on his knees, his hands and his face turned towards the sun and the image of the sun? (Guamán Poma de Ayala, selection: p. 63). The Inca said his prayers and confessed all his acts of government. In the same spirit, all amautas and priests prayed to the sun.


The following sacrifices are made at this ceremony:

– Corn wine: The Inca offered this corn chicha in a glass of ora prepared a month in advance, as a symbol of repentance and the surrender of his will to the sun. Then he would put some of the drink into the stone basin where the delegates of the four Suyus also deposit the chicha for the sun to accept, drink and thus share among themselves.

That is why June is the special month in which “the sun set to drink the corn chicha together with the Incas and carry the wishes of men to Pachacamac”.

– After this rite, the Inca offers his gift, which consists of gold, silver and spondilus shells, fine clothing and saramamas; The Inca offering, like the Saramamas, was buried to achieve the fertility of Mother Earth.

– Offerings of cornbread made by the Mamaconas, who this month made a large batch of painted cornbreads kneaded with white lamb’s blood. This bread was distributed to all participants in the ceremony as a symbol of unity and acceptance of all peoples towards the Inca (Manuel Cartuchi…. Page 4, 7).

Guaman Poma also tells us that they sacrificed one hundred painted and red sheep.

After the offerings, the Inca opened the party with a special dance that he personally performed, after which everyone joined in, dancing, eating and drinking. But no one was allowed to get drunk at this party; if they did, they would be punished severely.
All Intiraimi ceremonies were performed with the songs of AYMURAY AND AYRIHUA.

AYMURAY dedicated the corn harvest as a ritual for the fertility of the land.

AYRIHUA is the grain dance, especially the MAMASARA – MAMAYUTA.

Due to its color, a special type of corn that forms two in one. The communities converted these products into HUACAS as they are the eldest daughter of Mother Nature.

These special products were made from precious metals such as gold and silver and were called CONOPAS and PRESERVED AS A SYMBOL OF THE FERTILITY OF THE PACHA MAMA.

After completing these ceremonies, in the second part of the festival, young people were selected for the priesthood, who had to work with the Amautas for six months, until December, the date on which the new young people were ordained, i.e. h the main festival of Capac Raimi. In the same month of June, the Yachacs and all the doctors visited large hills, mountains and holy places to collect all kinds of herbs and medicinal plants throughout the year.

Once these offerings and ceremonies are completed, at noon on the 21st, all negative energies will be burned away, so that from this moment a new time begins with great power and new energies to move forward into the future.

After this ceremony, they carry the great sun on a palanquin through all areas of the place so that it blesses the people and fertilizes nature so that there will be good harvests next year.

In this month of June, the second census or a second visit of the magistrates (tucui ricuc) and the judges (michuc) was carried out in each of the houses to check everything they have, from food, plants, animals, clothing and population. From this a redistribution of things was made so that there was neither rich nor poor and nothing was missing.

Currently, this spiritual rite of Intiraymi has been replaced by CORPUS CHRISTI.
Cuenca, June 20, 2001


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