August 1st, Pachamama’s Day
Every August 1st, people from the region of the Andes of Peru commemorate Pachamama’s Day. It is a tradition inherited through generations since Incas time or even way before that, since Pre-Inca times. The main objective of Pachamama’s day is to celebrate the connection with mother earth, who thanks to its great kindness provides the natural resources that are essential to sustain life.
Many regions of Peru and especially Cusco commemorates Pachamama’s Day performing some rituals as payment to the earth. Our ancestors had a great respect for their deities such us Inti (sun), Killa (moon), Illapa (lightning), among others. All of them had a special day in which were celebrated with different rituals.
What is August 1st special in different regions of Peru?
August 1st is a special day since in different regions of Peru Pachamama’s day is celebrated. Why is that? This day is important for many people whose main source of income is thanks to what the earth provides them. They are dedicated to agricultural activities. It also interesting to point out that August is part of the dry season which makes the best time to visit Cusco and sightseeing the city.
In August, farmers start preparing the fields for the planting season. Although they work hard, they are thankful to the Pachamama and make offerings to ask for good harvest.
Is Pachamama’s day celebrated only by farmers?
Actually not, people from the cities also perform some rituals as a payment to the earth.
Ingredients for the payment to the earth:
- Coca leaves
- Fetus of an animal (preferably of an andean one)
- Lliclla (Peruvian typical blanket with Inca related designs)
- Alcoholic drinks (mostly wine or beer)
- Cigarettes and food
How is Pachamama’s Day celebrated in Cusco?:
All the activities that take place on this day will magically take you back in time. You will observe what life in Cusco and its surroundings used to be like. On Pachamama’s day women and men from different high Andean communities of the region of Cusco get together to take part on this special occasion in honor to Mother Earth.
Steps for celebrating this day:
First, a sacred and important place is selected. There you have to dig a pit, which will serve to put the offerings and gifts that people will give to “Pachamama”.
Next, the offerings will be put on the lliclla that will lie as rug and serve as cover too.
The pit is not that big. generally is 50 cm deep and 1 cm in un diameter approximately. Actually, the size depend on the amount of offerings and gifts that Pachamama will be given.
Once the lliclla is on the floor, place all the ingredients for the payment to the earth like:
- Fetus of animals, preferably fetus lamb, alpaca, or llama. They symbolize fertility.
- Beer, food, coca leaves, cigarettes, sweets, candies, cookies, incense, etc
- The idea is to make Pacha Mama eat, drink and smoke.
To complete the payment to the earth, you have to set fire into the pit. Once the fire is on, put the offering covered with the lliclla.
While everything is being burnt, all the guests get together to drink the sacred drink of the incas, Chicha de jora (fermented corn). Some others will drink beer.
In addition, during the ceremony, people usually eat typical dishes of the region. They also dance typical dances that are from the area.
Everything must be arranged in advance showing great respect to Mother Earth.
Would you like to take part on the ceremony of payment to the earth? If so, we recommend coming to Cusco any month during the dry season. The weather in the dry season is perfect. It is sunny with a clear sky. However, early mornings and nights can be cold in Cusco. So be prepared and bring warm clothes like raincoats, beanie, gloves, etc.
If you come in August you can be part of this tradition while doing some tours.
You can also read:
- Coca leave and its properties
- What is Payment to the Earth?
- Incas deities
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