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By Analiese Walker Cook

The Incan civilization was dominated by their religious festivals and ceremonies. The festivals and ceremonies were celebrated all the time for reasons most ancient civilizations believed. Most civilizations believed that they had to please the gods for the survival of the universe. It was no different for the Incas. Most of the time, they would sacrifice animals, humans, and give offerings of food and drinks. The Incas felt that thought that the festivals were a way to control their surroundings.


The festivals occurred so often every year that the preparation that it takes for every ceremony takes up a lot of the time and affects the daily lives of the people very much. They had to save extra crops for the gods and they also had to spend a little extra time planning and making everything needed for the ceremonies. Some of the things needed were Chachi, which is a drink that the noblemen get to share only once a year. They only did this during the festival in June. The Incas also had to make special bread for the ceremony. Llamas and Alpacas were sacrificed on special occasions. This meant that the Incas had to hunt and gather extra crops and food because they needed food to live and some needed to be sacrificed. All the time spent preparing and celebrating the ceremonies had to be made up at some time. The ceremonies could make them fall behind on food crops and other daily routines.


There were a lot of festivals and ceremonies that they celebrated all the time. Every month had it’s own festival. But they all had different reasons and meanings. The most important festival was in the month of June. It was called Inti Raymi, which means Sun Festivity. The purpose of this festival was to worship Apu Inti, the Sun God. It was celebrated in the Cuzco main plaza on June 21. June is the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere, because the sun is the farthest away at that time. If they do not please the sun, then the sun would leave, it would be cold forever, and there would be no crops. To make the sun god, Inti, happy the Incas set up this festival to save the world.

The festival in June was not the only festival that the Incas celebrated. It may have been the most important but it was definitely not the only one. Since every month had it’s own festival, some meanings are April, Auriwa, was the Month of the Dance of Young Maize. During this festival, a white llama in nice clothes and gold jewelry is paraded around a big gathering of people. May, Aymuray, is the Month of Harvest, when festivals are held all over the empire. The Month of Earth Purification, July, is when priests make sacrifices to a huaca. A huaca is something or somewhere sacred. October is the Festival of Water. All of the Incans pray for rain. They prayed for the gods to give them enough water so they can have good crops for the rest of the year. In December, Kapac Raymi, it is the Month of the Magnificent Festival. This ceremony is specifically for the sons of the nobility. The seasons are very important to the Inca Festivals because they determine when each festival should be celebrated. All of the Incan festivals are very colorful even to this day. There are also other festivals too for drought, earthquakes, or wars. For these special ceremonies, only the noble people can be present for the ceremony, the only sound is the drums, and the people are silent.


The festivals are very important to the Incans and they make a very big impact to the daily lives of the people.



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