Today, the time of the Winter Solstice in the Southern hemisphere, marks the beginning of the new agricultural year for the Aymara indigenous people of the Andean region. In June 2010, Bolivia’s President Evo Morales, an Aymara himself, decreed June 21 as an important national holiday: the Aymara New Year.
Although the celebrations center in the ancient ruins of Tiwanaku, with more than 50,000 participants in 2010, all over Bolivia, indigenous Aymarans gather on this typically coldest, longest night of the year to see in the sunrise. They brave the freezing temperatures in order to welcome the sun out of its winter season, characterized by short days and early darkness, and into longer days and more sunshine. Rituals back-dropped with traditional music abound and sacrifices of llama, incense, alcohol, and coca are offered to Pachamama (mother nature/Mother Earth) until sunrise. All of this is in the hopes of enticing Tata Inti, the sun god, to heal the earth and give the farmers a good harvest. Read More »