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The Inti Raymi Festival: 24 of June, 2010
The Inti Raymi ("Festival of the Sun") was a religious ceremony of the Inca Empire in honor of the god Inti. It's the second biggest celebration in South America after Rio's carnival. Before the colonial Spaniards banned the ceremonial events occurring each Winter Solstice in Cuzco, the native residents gathered to honor the Sun God, sacrifice an animal to ensure good crops and to pay homage to the Inca, as the first born Son of the Sun. Inti Raymi was the biggest, most important festivity ever carried out in Inca (Inka) times. Experience!
In Inka times, the ceremonies took place at the winter solstice, when the sun is farthest from the earth. Fearing the lack of sun and ensuing famine, the ancient Incas gathered in Cuzco to honor the Sun God and plead for his return. The celebrants fasted for days before the event, refrained from physical pleasures and presented gifts to the Inca. Today is still celebrated annually in Cuzco and the archaeological complex of Sacsayhuaman, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world.
What will you be able to see during this festival? A traditional Inca sun worship festival colourfully performed in front of the spectacular Sacsayhuaman fort. Entry to the fortress is free! In addition, every day has its events, from daytime expositions, street fairs, and people milling and dancing in the streets. In the evenings, live music from the best of Peruvian musical groups draws the crowds to the Plaza de Armas for free concerts. The centerpiece of the festival is the all-day celebrations on the 24th of June, the actual day of Inti Raymi.
Even though nowadays the festival has become more of a tourist attraction than a religious event for Peruvians, it is definitely worth seeing it. The festival itself shows off the country's cultural identity. So on the 24th of June be among those who want to experience and celebrate the winter solstice, in other words the beginning of the Sun's New Year. Once home to South America's legendary civilization - the Incas – Peru is a country that casts its spell on every visitor that steps on its land.
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