The sun has been the object of worship among the people of the Andes since time immemorial.
This devotion reached its zenith, quite possibly, during the Inca empire – to the point that their religious system was based on a worship of the sun.
“Inti Raymi” comes from the Quechua language and means “resurrection of the sun”. It was the largest and most important celebration during the Inca Empire.
The Inti Raymi was a celebration marked by a great abundance of eating and drinking, thanking the sun for the latest harvest and asking for prosperity in future harvests.
Other aspects of this celebration included a Recognition of Gratitude to the deity who, according to the Inca belief system, allowed for the existing life order, and honouring the memory of the first Incas and the fact that they were under the protection of the sun to create a focal point for the civilization.
According to some chroniclers, the Inti Raymi lasted approximately one month – between May and June – but others say that it lasted between 8 and 9 consecutive days, without interruption.
Regardless, the Inti Raymi wasn’t always held in Cuzco; the celebration could have taken place in any other city in the empire, depending on the Inca’s location.
Divided by strict social differences, all the nobility of the empire had to be present during the Inti Raymi. Also, a rigorous fast was imposed three days before celebrations began. Sexual contact and the lighting of fire were also forbidden.
After the Spanish conquest, the Inti Raymi was banned by the Catholic Church. In 1942, however, the Inti Raymi celebration was finally resurrected and adopted by ordinary people, becoming a popular Peruvian festival.
The Inti Raymi has evolved, though, and now attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world. It is held annually on June 24th, between Cusco and the archaeological complex of Saqsayhuaman .