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5 Ancestral Ceremonies You Can Enjoy in Peru

Visiting Machu Picchu and its surroundings is always a magical and unforgettable experience not only for its beautiful landscapes, but also for the Inca Culture’s great Ancestral Ceremonies that its communities celebrate every year until today.  For this reason, at PeruRail we recommend 5 Ancestral Ceremonies that you can delight in Puno, Cusco and in the areas surrounding the road to Machu Picchu.

Pachamama Raymi: payment feast to the land

Pachamama Raymi means in English “Feast of Mother Earth” and is celebrated every year during the first week of August. In it, the people of Cusco pay tribute to Mother Earth in gratitude for the good harvests of the year, which are the main livelihood of the families.

The festival begins on August 1. On this day, the peasants do not work the land to let it rest. This is how the ritual of payment begins. In this ceremony called “haywasqa” (payment to the land), which is headed by an Andean priest known as “Pako”, foods worked and produced by Mother Earth, such as huayruro seeds, coca leaves, chicha de jora and other drinks (drinks that you will also find on our Belmond Hiram Bingham train), are used. As a sign of respect, all the provisions and offerings must be cooked and then be put in a hole previously dug in such a way that the Pachamama is fed.

Inca ritual to show gratitude to the Pachamama

Inti Raymi: The Sun Festival

This is one of the most important festivities in Cusco and every year it brings together thousands of people from all over the world for its celebration. The Inti Raymi or Sun Festival celebrates the winter solstice every June the 24th. In this festival, the Inca is in charge of performing a ritual to honor the most important divinity of the Tahuantinsuyo: the Sun.

The ceremony begins in the Coricancha Temple (today is the Santo Domingo Convent) with the salute to the Sun. After this, the Inca and the mayor of Cusco meet in Huacaypata and finally carry out the central ceremony in the north of the city in the esplanade of the Sacsayhuamán fortress at more than 3,600 meters above sea level.

Nowadays, hundreds of actors with typical Inca clothing meet in this archaeological complex and perform a representation of what was the summoning of the Sun by the Inca.

It is the perfect panorama before boarding the PeruRail Vistadome,  a culture train experience  on the way to Machu Picchu!

Inti Raymi celebration, Cusco – Peru.

Qoyllur Riti

The Qoyllur Riti or “Snow Star” (for its Quechua meaning) is a religious festival celebrated in Cusco a few days before Corpus Christi and 58 days after Easter.

This festival fuses aspects of the Andean cultures of pre-Columbian times with the religion implanted by the Spaniards after their arrival. Although Christ is used as an image for this festival, what is venerated is the fertility of the land, the worship of the apus (mountains) and the relationship between man and nature.

For this celebration, faithful and delegations of dancers from various places in Cusco meet in Mahuayani and make a pilgrimage of 8.5 km through the Sinakara Valley until they reach the Sanctuary of the Lord of Qoyllur Riti.

Celebration of the Qoyllur Riti, Cusco

Andean New Year

Every June 21 and coinciding with the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere, the Andean New Year celebration takes place. In Andean cultures, this moment is known as the beginning of a new stage for nature as it is now ready to sowing and with it a new moment in people’s lives.

Every year, the authorities and communities get together to carry out and celebrate rituals and cultural activities, being the offering to the Sun the most prominent. This activity takes place early in the morning while waiting for the sun’s first rays to show gratitude for the land’s fertility and ask for a good year.

Finally, a massive breakfast is held with Andean products such as potatoes, chuño, broad beans and quinoa so that each of the families does not suffer from lack of food in the new year.

Be part of the most important rituals of the Inca Culture in Cusco and Puno traveling on the luxury PeruRail Titicaca Train!

The first rays of the sun in the Andean New Year, Puno

Kasarakuy: marriage in the Andes

Kasarakuy comes from Quechua and means “marry”. This festival in which Peruvian couples get married in the same way as their parents and ancestors did, takes place only in August, coinciding with great festivities such as the aforementioned Pachamama Raymi.

One of the peculiarities of this celebration is that the entire community participates in the formal union while dancing to the beat of huaynos and wearing typical clothing from Andean cultures. The organization of the celebration is in the hands of the couples’ families and the godparents, who are in charge of preparing the food, decorations and drinks in their respective homes.

Kasarakuy ceremony, Cusco

Live the celebration of Kasarakuy in the month of spirituality in Cusco!

There are plenty of reasons to visit Machu Picchu with PeruRail and also celebrations to have a unique experience on the way to the Inca Citadel. Learn more about the Inca Culture onboard our PeruRail Vistadome train. Check the train schedules to Machu Picchu!

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