Before Spaniards set foot to the Incan empire, natives used to celebrate Inti Raymi in the city of Cuzco, Peru as a holiday to honor the Sun God. Because it was celebrated on the Winter Solstice, they asked the Sun God for more hours of sun so that their crops would grow.
Before the celebration, the natives would deprive themselves of physical pleasures and fast, worshiping the Sun God. Women would sweep the streets of evil streets and prepare huge banquets for the day of the actual celebration.
During the celebration on June 24th, no fires were allowed until the evening, when a giant fire was burned with people dancing around it to worship the Empire of Four Wind Directions. White llamas were slaughtered, with their hearts held high above the crowd.
But when Spanish conquerors came, they outlawed all native religions and Inti Raymi was banned. Natives had to conduct the ceremonies in secret.
Today, it's the second largest ceremony in South America, with many citizens visiting Cuzco for the ceremonies and festivals. Booths filled with goods, games, and fun are set up everywhere in the city. Popular musicians and the top bands come to perform for the crowds. On Jun. 24th, people go to the ancient fortress Sacsayhuamán for a realistic reenactment of llama slaughtering and the bonfires. Two people acting to be Mama Occlo and Sapa Inca, the founders of Cuzco from old legends, are put on heavy golden thrones and are carried to the fortress for the reenactment. To be chosen for this role is a great honor for anybody.
When I went to the festival myself, I had a great time listening to the Peruvian bands, which had free concerts for all to listen to. The reenactments were very realistic and interesting and were great to watch. I got seats in the fortress early from tickets and rented a chair from a booth when I arrived there.
There were plenty of vendors supplying everything I needed, so bringing food was not a concern. I was happy that I was able to enjoy the experience of Inti Raymi and have fun.