This is Part 2 of Inti Raymi – You can read Part 1 here.
This is a day of great joy
We should all rejoice
Our joyous hearts are invigorated
Cheered by the pure air
Oh my Sun! Oh my Sun!
Illuminate us now.
Oh my Sun!
Send us your warmth
And banish the cold.
Oh my Sun! Oh my Sun!
So the clock is ticking, the biggest ceremony of the day is about to start, and we’re trapped in our bus on the wrong side of a police barricade. We all anxiously watch as the guides try to negotiate with the policeman to let us through. Begging, pleading, probably threatening, and maybe a little bribing went on. Finally, they opened the gates and let a few of the buses through, including ours! We were on our way!
And then, on a steep section of road halfway up the hill we came to a standstill again. A large bus up ahead of us had gotten stuck on one of the switchbacks. Traffic was going nowhere. We sat in our bus and watched loads of people pass us by on foot, heading for the festivities. Meanwhile, they had unloaded the big bus and were rocking it back and forth to try and get it unstuck. We sat and laughed about how maybe Inti Raymi just wasn’t meant to be for us. Finally, they got the bus unstuck and traffic started to move again…for about 100 feet. Then the unstuck bus stopped again to let its passengers back on. Having had enough, our bus driver punched it, swerved into the other lane, and passed that bus, determined to get us to the top on time. Loved that driver!
We finally made it to Saqsaywaman (an Incan fortress on the hill above Cusco), with plenty of time to spare. We had splurged on the most expensive tickets, which put us front and center for all the action. Our awesome guide, Flor, led us to our seats in the Orange section. Check out the awesome orange visors that everyone in our group had to wear (made it easier to keep track of us).
We found our seats and got settled. And then the festivities began.
First, the Sinchi, the head of the Imperial army, entered.
Sinchi: Brothers and Sisters from every corner of the mighty Empire of the Four Quarters! Welcome to this great Plaza of Chukipampa!
Now the Inka, the invincible Pachacutec, is about to arrive to lead the ceremony in which the Sun god will reveal to us his will. Be patient! The first signs in Haukaypata have been auspicious. And so, let us prepare to receive our one true Inka.
Let the plaza be filled with his people and warriors! Let the conch-blowers, flautists, and other musicians enter!
The people from the four quarters of the Empire enter, with offerings for the Inka. Each of these groups is called a Suyo.
And then they all await the arrival of their king, the Inka.
Once on the high altar, the Inka addresses the Sun god and the people of his empire.
Inka: Oh creator without equal who is in every corner of the Earth! Who gave life and courage to all men! Oh Sun god, watch over us! So that we might live in health and security, free of danger, and living in peace give us everlasting happiness and life. Hold us in your hand and receive our offering, oh father Sun, this is your day!
But first, inform me of the condition of our kingdom. How is life there? I wish to know, oh Sun god, so that you will take pity on us if we are suffering, or continue to protect us if all is well.
The Inka then receives the heads of the four corners of the Empire and hears reports of their year. Whether the crops were good, whether the gods smiled down upon them or brought them rain and bad fortune, he listens to them tell the stories of what their people have faced in the previous year.
There is good news and bad news regarding the happenings of the previous year. Some military campaigns have been successful and some places in the Empire have had a prosperous year, while others have suffered bad weather, poor crops, and other challenges. The Inka is both happy and saddened to hear the reports.
Inka: I fail to see clearly our situation. Our warriors have defeated the enemy on all fronts. Our empire has expanded and we have brought civilization. But something troubles me. The gods look down upon us with distrust. Why is that?! And they have seen fit to punish us! Why? We must know now. However, first, in order to gladden the heart of our father, the merciful Sun, let us dedicate to him a dance which expresses the purity of our heart.
And so the people of the Empire dance for the Sun.
Inka: Willaq Uma, now it is time for the ceremony to begin!
The Willaq Uma, the high priest, then begins the ceremony, starting with the Rite of the Chicha (a fermented corn drink), aided by the Inka.
Willaq Umi: Oh almighty god! Apu Ausangate! Apu Salkantay! Apu Wanakauri! Apu Pachatusan! Apu Saqsaywaman! Oh Sun god, our father! You, who ordained that there should be day and night. You, the creator of men and the sower of peace, warm the hearts of your children and their families and cast their light upon them and give them the strength to do their work. Protect them from illness and misfortune!
Inka: Oh god, father Sun! I salute you with this sacred chicha. This foaming liquid has been made from golden corn and it is the sweetest of chichas. Let it go from this altar to your great house, the Intikancha, where it will calm your thirst and, warm and strong, let it go to Mother Earth so that the corn will flourish and the potatoes grown in abundance.
After the Chicha ceremony is completed, they move on to the Rite of the Sacred Fire, which ensures warmth and light for the people of the Empire in the coming year.
Inka: The fire in our houses went out three days ago. An intense cold falls upon our hearts. Nevertheless, we have faith that our father the Sun will take pity on this Empire. Willaq Uma, beseech him now to send us his warmth and ignite the flame! And you, wise brother, ensure that is it distributed among the entire people, and that is it never extinguished in the Intikancha and the Aqllawasi!
The great flame is then lit as a great fire for each of the Suyos of the Empire. There is much dancing and celebration upon receiving the sacred fire.
The Inka now asks his Willaq Umi to sacrifice a llama to read the omens for the coming year. The priests and seers bring in a black llama, which is the most sacred of all llamas. At this point, it is total theater. The llama is not actually sacrificed, but they do a very believable enactment.
After the llama is sacrificed, the high priest & his seers read the omens based on the internal organs of the llama.
Willaq Uma (the high priest) and his seers then each tell the Inka what they have seen.
Yawarpirikuq: Almighty lord! I have seen that the animal’s blood is fresh and healthy. It was bright red and flowed abundantly, staining my breast. This means that the earth will be fertile for the good of our people. Our gods bless us, my lord!
Kallparikuq:The sacred llama was brimming with life when the Tarpuntay ripped out its bloody heart. In the final beating of its heart, I felt the strength and power of our race. It continued to beat for a long time. The Sun god blesses us with long life and protects us from all that might dare to threaten your power! That is what I have seen, with my own eyes and with in my heart.
Wirapirikuq: Oh, one and only Inka! The flesh of the llama has burned fiercely in the flames, producing smoke which is the message received in exchange for our sacrifice. You have seen this! The smoke was dense and thick and it has risen as far as our father, the Sun, and through it I have seen his face transfigured with joy! We please our god! He looks down upon us pleased!
Willaq Umi: You have heard, my lord Inka! When our father the Sun appeared in all his radiance in the Intikancha this morning and, moments later, the coca tasted so sweet in Haukaypata, we felt sure that these were good omens: wellbeing, long life, power, security, progress, unity, justice and honor. Now you know my lord Inka, all that the gods have revealed to us.
The Inka is pleased by these auspicious readings and makes one last request of the Sun god and of his people.
Inka: Oh father, supreme creator! Oh Sun god! Oh god of Lightning! Oh god of the Feline Star! Oh Mother Moon! Oh spirits of Ausangate, Salkantay, Wanakauri, Pachatusan, and Saqsaywaman! Remain forever young and never grow old! Give us eace and ensure that our people multiply! Let there be food always and banish hunger forever! Protect us from evil and adversity! Oh gods of the universe! And you, Sun god, our father! On this, your great day, we have offered you a young llama and the fruits which Mother Earth has given us, together with the products of our ingenuity of our own hands. Receive them as a sign of our gratitude for the joy which you have brought to our hearts with your good omen for the coming year, which we are beginning with your blessing! May you remain forever young and guide your people of Cusco and your Empire of the Four Regions!
Beloved people of Cusco! People from all the regions! Our father, the eternal Sun, has answered us favorably and shown us his goodness. We must work even harder and with greater joy! It is the will of the almighty Sun that we should all work, united as one!
Long life to the Empire of the Four Regions!
And there is much rejoicing amongst all the peoples.
And with that, Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Sun, is over. The Inka and all of his people dance around Saqsaywaman and head off. And then the real party begins. Everyone in and around Cusco dancing and mingling, taking photos, celebrating. The parties went on well into the night both up at Saqsaywaman and back in Cusco.
Here are a few photos from the end of the ceremony, when it became a free for all. Click on any image to make view it larger.
Credit to Jose Felix Silva and Faustino Espinosa Navarro for the poetry, lyrics, and script of the Inti Raymi ceremonies quoted here. Special thanks to the Direccion Regional de Comercio Exterior y Turismo de Cusco, & EMUFEC for quoted excerpts of the ceremony from the program they produced.