The Meaning of the INTIRAYMI festival

From the socio-anthropological point of view there are no higher or lower cultures, but rather different cultural formations throughout history that respond to certain social, material and spiritual conditions.

When the Spanish invaders arrived on the continent of Abya Yala, they found many highly developed cultures. Which for their administration were governed by very well structured principles, rules and codes that allowed an equitable life and harmony between all men and between them and nature.

These forms of organization and the different knowledge about medicine, astrology, architecture and engineering were recorded through the Quipus systems, which were ideographic writing systems. However, the Spanish, because they did not find a writing similar to the Spanish and Latin alphabet, did not know these systems and ventured to affirm that the Incas did not have writing. In the Quipus all norms, laws, history, science, rites, ceremonies, agricultural cycles, astrology, local and national forms of organization and administration were recorded.

All this knowledge has been described by various chroniclers and evangelizing priests and today we can still find it transmitted through the collective memory and experiential practices of each of the peoples and cultures.

In the worldview of the Andean man, all nature is sacred and endowed with life. In its multiple expressions, the presence of the supreme being, creator and maker of the world, is manifested. Hence, in his philosophical conception there exists the unity GOD-MAN-COSMOS intimately united. (Bruno Frison: p, 37). In the Andean worldview, to maintain this unity and balance, 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 human beings but a reciprocity between man and nature and the divinities. In our philosophy there were three worlds that are related to cosmic principles: HANAN PACHA, cosmos, CAYPACHA, the current and real world, and UCUPACHA, the underground world and hidden forces. In this cosmos, man was the axis and as such he had to maintain balance. Therefore, under this conception the Inca culture organized all the festivals, rites and ceremonies.

The Incas, like the great cultures of Central America, were not pagan, they had a Supreme God-Being Creator or maker, called ILLKA TICSIVIRACUCHA PACHAYACHACHIC, God who gives rise to the world, or in the language of the Mayans, HUNABKU, which meant the? Heart of Heaven?

This creator god lived together with men and one day, upon finishing his teaching mission in the form of THUNUPA, he went to live in the infinite cosmos. But human beings, in order not to be left alone and abandoned; And in order to be able to maintain contact and receive blessings and favors from Pachacamac, they created interlocuting gods, such as the sun, the moon, and the stars. The sun is considered the favorite son of the Great PACHACAMAC, which generates light, heat, energy and life to all living beings in this pacha cay. The other gods that men created were emanations of the God Pachacamac and through these emanations, man could reach supreme divinity. The gods or lower divinities were identified with each phenomenon of nature (Bruno Frison: p, 39).
From there it is understood that the Sun, being the most visible star, was the symbol of connection, the main mediator, to whom the Incas venerated and paid special worship through rites and ceremonies, in the center of tahuantinsuyu, which is Cuzco, where delegations from the 4 parts or 4 suyus attended: 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 the totems or local divinities, to whom worship and tribute were also paid. The people of Tahuantinsuyu were very religious and spiritual. Under this religious structure, the missionary priests implanted their religion and made many Christs, saints and virgins appear with different names and in special places of worship. In devotion to the saints, we indigenous people pay respect, praise and gratitude.

Under these concepts, festivals and rituals to the Sun were instituted.

To enter into what the Intiraimi festivals mean, we must start from an explanation that in the tawantinsuyu two types of festivals were held:

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

These festivals expressed a cultural conception of the cosmic world and the divinities.

Due to its organizational structure, the festivals and rituals were of two kinds:

1) Of local rite, in which the Inca, the priests and the amautas participate.

2) The general one with the participation of all the inhabitants.

Within the philosophical and spiritual festivals, the Intiraimi is located

The main Sun cult festivals were:

1. Capac Intiraimi Festivities, 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 festivities were carried out with greater spirituality because they were the festivities of the Solstice or Father Sun.


According to the astronomical calendar in Tawantinsuyu, two main festivals were held in the sun: in December-January; and May-June. As May and June is the month of harvests, some chroniclers speak of the harvest festival, others speak of the solstice festival, since the Incas, to determine the day and the apparent movement of the sun, built a large solar observatory in which There is a key point that only on the solstice and equinox do the solar rays enter that point.

According to the narration of the chroniclers, the Intiraymi celebrations begin in the month of May with the JATUNCUSQUI, after the new moon of May, which is the month of the great search and the deposit of the crops, to culminate with the rite ceremonial called HUACAY CUSQUI, on June 21.

For the celebration of this Intiraimi festival, the Kuricancha was built in the central square of Cusco, called the Temple of the Sun. In this temple, the large solar disk was placed - made of solid gold with a round human face, and with its rays and flames of fire and placed on a large stone basin? (Garcilazo).
June is the month of harvest rest, on the 21st the Solstice occurs and taking advantage of this situation the Inca celebrates the festival in the sun through ceremonies, rites and sacrifices. This festival is exclusive to the Inca, the priests and amautas. It is a rite of purification and accountability. The Inca dressed in a large red cloak. The Inca comes out to the center of the Curicancha, on both sides of the golden disc there are two lions pointing at the sun, the clarity was shining from the windows, two sides were blowing Author: María Sisapacari Bacacela Gualán
Indians, in the wind of the blow... and an arch came out that they call chirichy and there in the middle the Inca stood, kneeling on his knees with his hands and face towards the sun and the image of the sun? (Guamán Poma de Ayala, selection: p, 63). The Inca said his prayer and confessed all of his government actions. In the same sense, all the amautas and priests prayed to the sun.


In this ceremony the following offerings are made:

- Corn wine: the Inca offered this corn chicha in a glass of ora prepared a month in advance as a symbol of repentance and surrender of his will to the sun. Then he would put part of the drink in the stone basin where the delegates of the four suyus also deposit the chicha so that the sun would accept them, drink them and in that way share reciprocally.

That is why June is the special month in which "the sun came down to drink the corn chicha together with the Inca and took the men's requests to Pachacamac."

- After this rite, the Inca offers his gift that consists of gold, silver and spondilus shell, fine clothes and saramamas; The Inca offering was buried like the saramamas to achieve the fertility of Mother Earth.

- Offerings of corn bread made by the mamaconas who in this month made a large quantity of painted corn buns kneaded with white lamb's blood. This bread was distributed to all those attending the ceremony as a symbol of unity and acceptance of all peoples to 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 started the party with a special dance, which he performed personally, after which everyone participated, danced, ate and drank. But at this party no one could get drunk, if they did they were severely punished.
All Intiraimi ceremonies were performed using the songs of AYMURAY AND AYRIHUA.

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

AYRIHUA is the corn dance, especially the MAMASARA - MAMAYUTA.

Special type of corn due to its color, it forms two in one. The communities converted these products into HUACAS, for being the eldest daughter of Mother Nature.

These special products were designed in precious metals of gold and silver and were called CONOPAS AND KEPT IT AS A SYMBOL OF FERTILITY OF THE PACHA MAMA.

Once these ceremonies were completed, as the second part of the festival, young people were selected for the priesthood who had to collaborate with the amautas, for 6 months until December, the date on which the new young people were consecrated, that is, in the main festival. of Capac Raimi. In the same month of June, the yachacs and all the doctors visited large hills, mountains and sacred places to collect all types of herbs and healing plants for the entire year.

Once these offerings and ceremonies are finished, at noon on the 21st all negative energies are burned so that from that moment on a new period begins with great strength and new energies to move towards the future.

After this ceremony they carry the great sun on a litter through all the territories of the place so that it blesses the people and fertilizes nature so that there are good harvests next year.

In this month of June, the second census or visit of the magistrates (tucui ricuc) and the judges (michuc) to each of the houses was carried out to verify everything they have, from food, plants, animals, clothing and population. From which a redistribution of things was carried out so that there were no rich or poor and nothing was missing.

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