Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Inti Raymi, Part I

Inti Raymi is coming.  This is an ancient Incan celebration to the Sun God and begins on June 21, summer solstice, each year.  Cotacachi is the only place left in Ecuador where Inti Raymi is celebrated with as much "vigor" as it is.

Everywhere I read about Inti Raymi I find something that is, at the very least, shaded with different meanings about what happens and, more often, downright contradictory.  All sources seem to agree that Gringos are welcome at the festivities and there will be tear gas at some point in the celebrations.

I've been looking around to find interesting bits of information for you to read or pictures to see before the actual even occurs so you can learn as much or as little as you want about the goings on.

This photo is taken from one of the best articles I've seen about Inti Raymi, from the site.  This link should take you to the correct page translated into English. 
You've heard me talk about my email list from Jack Moss, right?  Well, we had an email about Inti Raymi about a week ago and there we were given a little more realistic view of what might actually happen here in town when all of this happens.

The following also contained the text without the photos from the above article.  I opted for the original with photos included.


You have a few days to decide what to do with Inti Raymi coming up if you are in the town center.
You can't talk about Inti Raymi without, at least, mentioning the potential violence associated with this festival. No leader of community or government wants this fighting or the hundreds of soldiers and police who come into town with tear gas canisters. It seems to be youth gangs involved for the most part and blood-letting is not a part of the ritual dance. Long ago there may have been fist-fights but the violence has escalated to where usually two or three people are killed every year now.
For most residents of Cotacachi though the worst part is just the tear gas, which will get in your house a bit if you are within a couple of blocks of it and the wind is right, (or wrong?). At the end of these notes is the schedule of events in case you'd like to get close-up or you'd prefer to leave town till nightfall.

Sunday July 3, 2011 El Comercio newspaper- (last year)
The Inti Raymi celebration in Cotacachi ended with a total of 17 injured, according to the Rural Police of Imbabura. A man, 35 years old, received a bullet impact in his right leg....(during) a confrontation between inhabitants of the communities from the South and those who come from the North of Imbabura province. "It was a pitched battle," says Edwin Cando, head of the Rural Police. The incident occurred in the Central streets Bolivar and 9 October and lasted about two hours, despite the presence of 264 policemen. In 2010, during this Andean celebration the hospitals attended to 104 people injured by knives or during the stone-throwing fights.
This content was originally published by Diario EL COMERCIO at the following address: If you are making use of the same, please cite the source and make a link to where you have taken this content from.

Cotacachi is the last place in Ecuador where this style of Inti Raymi takes place so even nearby towns will be quite peaceful those days in comparison. Some of the fighting is at nightfall as people try to get around each other and back to their communities. Also keep in mind that there are hundreds and thousands of inebriated people visiting and some may be driving these roads. Following is the schedule:

June 17 10AM at Lake Cuicocha is the opening ceremony with Shamans and ritual bath. The dancing begins in the communities themselves with people going house to house together.
June 23 10AM at Matriz Park is the children doing a soft version of the stomping chanting dance.
June 24 and 25th at Matriz Plaza. This is a Sunday and Monday and then the following Friday 29th and Saturday June 30th is the HATUN PUNCHA male-energy rite of taking the plaza by rival mobs separated by hundreds of riot police.
The last day is called Warmi Puncha, when the indigenous women come to the Matriz park for ritual dance and the men attend to each others wounds. Enjoy.

As I discover more about this upcoming festival, I'll be sure to keep you posted.  Of course I'll be out there taking photos like crazy until it gets to be too crazy to do so.  Be prepared to be barraged with photos.

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