Celebrating the Sun in Cusco

Cusco, the Inca capital of South America hosts the Inti Raymi festival of the sun every June.  I was lucky enough to arrive during the street parade in the city. With a carnival atmosphere and an incredible display of creativity, I had a wonderful introduction to this historical city. 

The Flag of Cusco
The Flag of Cusco

When travelling in Peru, you would have to have your ears shut not to hear about Pachamama. The goddess is a similar entity to the idea of Mother Nature and is still honoured by the indigenous people of the Andes today. Amongst other things, they worship her to ask for good weather and conditions for growing crops.

Potatoes and Corn
Crops that are only made possible by the sun are celebrated in a BIG way throughout the streets of Cusco

Less frequently discussed with travellers, but related to Pachamama (either her son or her husband, depending where you read) is Inti. Equally important for growing food, he is the Inca god of the sun. Historically in June, Inca’s would sacrifice many llamas and other unfortunate creatures  in a ceremony to worship Inti.

The tradition is still marked at Sacsayhuamán, but is tourist friendly and no llamas are hurt within the making of the ceremony!

Celebrating Llamas
Nowadays llamas only feature in the procession as a cute model. Phew!

During the build up to the main ceremony, there is a procession throughout the streets and I was extremely lucky to turn up (by accident) just in time to see it. Handmade costumes and elaborate carnivalesque creations carefully made their way through the streets lined with excited onlookers. I squeezed in to take a peek at the city, filled to the brim with colour and South American creativity.

Cusco Centre
The centre of Cusco filled with excited festival goers
Enjoying the festival
Enjoying waiting to see the next creation come around the corner
Cusco Setting
Cusco is a stunning setting for an Inca parade.

The costumes represented a variety of elements to celebrate the sun and what it gives to us. Here are some of my favourites…

The Bird

The Bird
This enormous construction held up the procession for a while when it couldn’t quite get it’s head under the phone wires it was so big.
Bird Head
The condor represents the “higher world” in Inca mythology. This one was having a munch on a frog
The Bird Controllers
The music continued at the condor’s feet, while the others tried to work out how to get it’s head under the overhead wire.

The Wolf

Wolf on the move
I’m not sure what the story is with this one. Wolves and mice together…?
The Wolf
A wolf type headdress
Mouse takes a break
The mouse was waiting to see what the delay was about

Inca Characters

Inca Farmer
Enormous model of an inca man bursting from a wall
Character with a wall
This one highlights the detail and colour of his hat
Man with corn
Inca farmer
Massive inca looming over Cusco’s streets
Scary Face
The massive inca had quite an intimidating face
Sun Worshipper
Worshipping the sun by offering potatoes
Inca God
Inca man with a traditional headdress and a shield
Inca over the Crowds
The inca rules this city!

Cusqueños in the parade

Peruvian Festivaler
The parade was slow and so there was a lot of waiting. This was an opportunity to take some pics of the locals. I love this guy’s hat!
Peru Man
A musician awaits his turn.
Consuma Cultura y no Basura
Some people used the gathering to send a message. (Consume culture not rubbish)
Things to do while waiting to move…
Traditional Dress
Dressed in bright traditional clothes. This man decides to take a seat while he waits.

And finally…

World cup llama
It was the world cup… so of course there was a traditional world cup llama!!

Have you ever been to a South American festival? 

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