INTIWATANA: WINTER SOLSTICE / SOLSTICIO DE INVIERNO

English translation of the Spanish audio below:

While Europe enjoys the longest day of the year, Bolivia observes the Southern Hemisphere winter solstice with Intiwatana, an ancient ceremony to mark the arrival of the Andean New Year.

This year, for the second year running, shamans and indigenous farmers have joined forces with archaeologists to celebrate the most important festival in the Andean calendar at the Inca ruins of Qollcas of Cotopachi, on the outskirts of the city of Cochabamba.

David Pereira, the Director of the Museum of Archaeology at the University of San Simon, explains why this site has been chosen.

“Qollca is the Inca word for a maize storage deposit, or silo. The archaeological site at Cotopatchi is the biggest example in the world, with the remains of around 3,000 circular silos.”

“The ritual celebrates the initiation of a new agricultural year, not just in the sense of the cultivation of crops, but also in the sense of fertility; the start of a new cycle of life.”

At dawn across the country, shamans and worshippers honour Pachamama (Earth Mother) and Inti (Sun), two of the principal deities of the Andean world, in order to ensure health and productivity in the year ahead, as Carlos Prado, an Andean ritualist, comments,

“The ritual always starts with the first rays of sun. It’s a homage to the divinity of the sun, to show our gratitude for the past year… we’ve eaten, we’re still alive… and to wish for a better new year. But for this we have to pay, with the table.”

David Pereira: “The ritual tables consist of a paper base, on top of which is a preparation of different herbs, different symbolic elements… houses, money, elements representing health etc… accompanied by cotton, wool, and a strongly aromatic herb called kh’oa. Coca leaves are also added, and in many cases so is a llama fetus.

Carlos Prado: “The coca leaf has a fundamental place. The ritual table shouldn’t be without it.”

Female voice: “The people who want to make a wish can do this through the coca leaf. You may wish for health, or work, for example. Do this through the coca leaves and put them on the table so your wishes and good intentions can become reality in this New Year.”

The ritual ‘table’ is put on the fire and left to burn, and the ritualist can predict the fortune the new year will bring by reading the ashes.

Carlos Prado: “If the ashes are white, we always say that’s a good sign… it means it will be a good year, without major problems. If there happens to be a dark patch, a black part that hasn’t burnt, and a white part, that suggests there will be problems.”

As the ritualist chants to Pachamama and the table burns, worshippers stretch out their hands to receive the first light of the ‘reborn’ sun, and reflect on their personal hopes for the new year.

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One Response to “INTIWATANA: WINTER SOLSTICE / SOLSTICIO DE INVIERNO”

  1. […] INTIWATANA: WINTER SOLSTICE / SOLSTICIO DE INVIERNO While Europe enjoys the longest day of the year, Bolivia observes the Southern Hemisphere winter solstice with Intiwatana, an ancient ceremony to mark the arrival of the Andean New Year. This year, for the second year running, … […]

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