Every year the 24 of June day in which the sun is on its most distant point from the earth and also coincides with the winter solstice, Cusco celebrates the Inti Raymi or “The Sun Feast”. It was a feast practiced by the Incas in honor of their god Sun or “Inti” (means sun in quechua). This ceremony was the most important in the Incan empire because the sun was their principal deity. The Inti Raymi indicated the start of the year as well as the mythical origin of the Incas. It used to last 9 days. Days in which dances and sacrifices were done. During the ceremony the sacrifice of a llama was realized to predict the coming year. After that, a military march was made and in the end they used to leave the place. Finally, they were really happy for a lot of days. The last Inti Raymi that the Inca emperor attended was in 1535. After the Spanish conquest, the ceremony was banned by the Catholic Church and the Andean society who used to celebrate it was dismembered. The Inti Raymi was forgotten until the 20th century when it was brought back as a big movement expression of native culture reassessment of Peru.
In the Incan times the Sun Feast was a religious ceremony but now is a theatrical representation. Nevertheless this cultural expression generates an identity feeling on the people and conjure up values and memories that are still relevant nowadays.
Nowadays, the recreation of the Inti Raymi ceremony still preserves all its majestic glory but without the sacrifices of llamas or the procession of the mummies. The ceremony starts in the morning with the arrival of the four “Suyos” representatives (Collasuyo, Contisuyo, Antisuyo and Chichaysuyo) in the Qoricancha esplanade. The Sapa Inca opens the party invoking the praise of the sun (Inti) and then the royal entourage follows him to the main square of Cusco within a short. After that a ceremonial reading of Coca Leaf is made to see the future of the Empire the following year. The final part of this recreation takes place in Sacsayhuaman. There, thousands of spectators from all over the world meet to appreciate this ancestral celebration. Dressed with traditional clothes, the Inca offers his last words in Quechua (The Inca’s language) before the sacrifice of a llama (they do not use a real llama, everything is acting). The feast ends with the sounds of horns, panpipes and leather drums.