Happy solstice explorers!
I am so excited because later today I am going to the festival called Inti Raymi at Saqsaywaman, Inka ruins right above the city. June is a wonderful month in my hometown because there are lots of big fiestas (a Spanish word for parties) like Inti Raymi and Corpus Christi. Inti Raymi takes places every year just after the winter solstice, which is on June 21. In the Southern Hemisphere, the winter solstice is the shortest day of the year. Today, there are going to be ceremonies and blessings for the Sun and dances too. In fact, I am going to be in a street-parade. We will first dance around the Plaza de Armas and then Saqsaywaman. I have been very busy this week making my special costume with the help of my Mum, María.
The Inkas also held a large celebration for Inti, the Sun, and his people at the June Solstice. The Inka king, called the Sapa Inka, invited people from all over Tawantinsuyu, the empire, to come to Cusco and celebrate. Some European sources from the 16th and 17th century tell us that this festival was grand. There was much feasting, singing and dancing! It was so important that even the mummies of kings and queens and the statutes of Inti and his wife and sister, Mama Quilla, the Moon, were taken out from their temples and hiding places and placed on the large platform in the plaza, which is today called the Plaza de Armas.
It is said that after the Spaniards conquered Peru, they introduced the feast of Corpus Christi so that the Inkas would make prayers to the Santos (a Spanish word for Saints) instead of to their gods. Just a couple of weeks ago, I watched the great colourful parades of Corpus Christi in the plaza. This fiesta takes place nine weeks after Easter and is a national holiday in Peru. During the parade, fifteen bright and colourful large saints and virgins are carried on very heavy wooden litters around the plaza. Each Santo even has their own band of drummers, horn and trumpet players. My favourite part is when the Santos arrive at the entrance of the Cathedral and church of Loreto because they stop and bow their heads. When the Santos finally arrive at the Cathedral, they stay there for just one week.
When I watch the Saints dance around the plaza, I imagine that I am back in the 15th century watching the Inkan mummies and statues of the Sun and the Moon shimmer in the sunlight as they dance around the plaza on their litters of gold and silver and the Inka king toasting to the Sun, drinking from a large cup called a kero. It would have been espectacular!
I have to go now and finish my dress for la fiesta!
Hasta luego, amigos!
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