June 21: New Year for Some Andean Peoples

Ollantay Itzamná
Andean New Year Ceremony.Internet

Just a few decades ago, to announce or publicly display the ritual celebration of our gratitude to the Sun, (June 21), was unthinkable and a cause for shame. Yes, it was a cause for social derision. Ignorant, the “enlightened” called us.

Now, the celebration of gratitude and clamor to Father Sun so that he returns with his warmth as soon as possible in these times of long and colder nights, is becoming almost a motive of pride and reconstitution of the identity and spirituality of the people.

Nobody knows “for sure” on what date exactly our grandparents celebrated the Willka Kuti or Inti Raymi. It is assumed that it is at the time of the winter solstice (June 21), but the hegemonic model science cannot establish with exactitude the instant in which the winter solstice occurs in the entire southern hemisphere.

What is certain is that there are as many new years, on different dates, as there are peoples in the world. The Mayan peoples have three or two calendars, with their own new year dates. Aymaras, Mapuches and Quechuas celebrate our new year on June 21. The West celebrates on January 1. Jews, Muslims, on different dates…..

Western colonization, in its attempt of colonization/Christianization, persecuted/punished with torture our grandparents to punish us and thus prevent the coexistence of the diversity of lifestyles on the Planet. They did it during the European colony and they still do it in the current republican colony.

But, in spite of the violence of modernity and the culturicide of Christianity, in this part of the world, the mystique of creative resistance is more powerful than the destructive violence of centuries.

I still remember. My parents, who already celebrate Willka Kuti from the fertile womb of the Pachamama, used to go down to the most inaccessible ravines, at midnight, hiding even from their children, to live, to perform, their ancestral ceremonies of gratitude to the Earth.

Apparently, those times when the spirituality of Life was a motive of persecution, shame and death, are seduced as a consequence of the nefarious consequences of destruction and death that the colonization/Christianization imposed (universalized) in the world.

Therefore, the Andean New Year should not only be a celebration of the return of solar heat to the Southern hemisphere in these times of long and cold nights, where everything seems to die, but it should also be a celebration of the incipient and growing victory of the spiritualities of Life over the colonial religions and doctrines of death and their cultural monocultures.

We are not individuals. We are community. We are not owners. We are part of the cosmic community. We are not isolated atoms in the pluriverse. We are community dependent on all beings of the cosmic community. Therefore, our gratitude to Tayta Inti (Father Sun) is as real as the cold or the heat we feel in our bodies.