Winter Solstice - Aymara New Year
The winter solstice takes place in Tiwanaku town, every June 21st. This date marks the Aymara New Year or Machaj Mara; it also marks the beginning of a new agricultural year. The winter solstice indicates that the earth is in its farthest point from the sun. The Amautas (Andean priests) celebrate a gratitude ceremonies to the Sun and the Pachamama (mother earth) for the crops received to feed their people this celebrations are perfectly integrated to the Bolivian culture and starts with the first sunlight sparks on June 21st , the light inspires the hope of a unity between the Universe and our hearts, that provides joy in life in the sacred journey. The ceremony includes chants, rituals and offerings to the sun and to the Pachamama to assure prosperity and fecundity the rituals are a remembrance of the ancient aymara communities practice. Every year on June 20th night a convoy of tourists and students departs from La Paz city towards Ingavi province to receive with the first morning light the new Andean year in Tiwanaku, many authorities travel as well to inaugurates artisan fairs, and participate at Kalasasaya Temple of the wajt'a ceremony ritual to get the Apus and Pachamama permission. Few minutes before 06:00 at the demi-underground temple in Tiwanaku archeological centre the burn of the 4 ceremonial tables will start. The first sunlight will be awaited at the Sun gate (Puerta del Sol) around 07:00, this instants are considered perfect to receive the cosmic energy of the sun. More than a thousand aymaras participate in the Andean new year celebration with rituals and offerings in Kalasasaya temple and at the Sun gate the most important Tiwanaku archeological remains. The winter solstice is also celebrated at the Cochabamba archeological ruins and in Santa Cruz at Samaipata fort.