Written by: David Miranda


celebración por el dia de la tierrra - Cusco

A cultural and artistic event

The first of August is celebrated on Earth Day or in Quechua: "Pachamama Raymi", in the high Andean communities of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. The Andes region is characterized by its deep cultural and folk legacy from the Inca and pre-Inca cultures that is expressed in its festivals, customs and traditions.

It is a tradition that continues from ancient Inca times. Many people have a close bond with our Mother Earth (Pachamama in Quechua), therefore every August 1 they perform a Pachamama Payment Ceremony that represents the earth in the broadest sense of the word, that is, the entire nature that provides us with the place and resources we need to live.

The Incas had the greatest respect for him, he was one of their deities as was the Inti or Sun God. Before any festivity they performed, they used to make him a previous thanksgiving ceremony, it was the time for the earth to eat, drink and smoke. It was time to give her a lot of what she has given us.

What is celebrated on Pachamama day?

It is important to know that the majority of high Andean communities have had and still have a deep dependence and connection with agriculture, being the month of August the month in which furrows are normally made in the land, preparing it to receive the seeds and therefore the new ones. crops. On the day of the Pachamama, the Andean man tries to return or return to the earth everything he has received from her, showing his gratitude and asking him that the coming harvests are also abundant and prosperous.

Among the ingredients that we need to give thanks are: the coca leaf, the fetus of some animal (preferably an Andean animal), some coins, lliqlla (typical blanket with Inca motifs), alcoholic beverages (mostly wine or beer), cigarettes and food. Rural men, housewives, workers, farmers, children, authorities, neighborhood associations and other organizations participate in the festivities for the day of Pachamama.

Pago a la tierra - Pachamama Picture: Offerings to Pacha Mama

How is Pachamama Day celebrated?

As part of the Pachamama Day celebrations, the men and women of the high Andean communities gather on August 1 in a ceremony that includes, among other things:

  • A hole or hole dug in the ground, which is where all the offerings and gifts for the Pacha Mama will be placed. This hole has a depth of 50 centimeters and a diameter of approximately 1 meter, depending on the number of gifts and the size of the ceremony.
  • A wool blanket or ‘Lliclla’ which is the garment with which the gifts will be wrapped, before covering them with earth.
  • Animal fetuses, generally using lamb, alpaca or llama fetuses. They symbolize fertility.
  • Beer, food, coca leaf, cigars, confetti, sweets, cookies.

During the procession some carguyoqs give gifts to the assistants, objects such as postcards, souvenirs, etc; they are distributed without distinction. The procession ends at approximately 12 noon after all the saints return to the Cathedral where they will remain until next Thursday when the faithful, the carguyoq, the mayor and others return their saints to their place of origin, the temple. from which they were taken.

The idea is ‘make Pacha Mama eat, drink and smoke’. At the end of the ceremony, wood or firewood is placed in the hole, all the above is wrapped with the lliclla and finally everything is consumed by the fire, to be later covered with earth. Throughout the ceremony people drink beer, consume various typical dishes and celebrate with dance and music.

Altomisayoc in the middle of the ceremony of payment to the land Altomisayoc in the middle of the ceremony of payment to the land

Inca mythology

Trilogia andina Andean cosmology

The Incas had a ‘pantheistic’ religion, that is, they believed that the creator God and nature (mountains, valleys, rivers, lightning, thunder, etc.) were actually a single entity or concept. The Incas did not know the writing so that most of the traditions and myths have been transmitted orally from generation to generation. According to the Inca worldview, space or time was divided into three planes:

  • Hanan Pacha: This word means ‘the world from above’. It is represented by a condor. It was the heavenly world, reserved for those people who had been righteous during their lives and which was accessed through a bridge made with hair. In this higher world inhabit the most important gods such as Wiracocha, as we will expand later.
  • Kay Pacha: This word means ‘the present world, the here and now’. It is represented by a puma. It is the world where we humans, animals and some Gods like Pachamama, Mama Sara and Pariacaca live.
  • Uku Pacha: This word means ‘the world below, the world of the dead’. It is represented by a snake. In this world, according to Andean mythology, unborn children, the dead and everything that was below the surface of the earth or the sea inhabit. They believed that caves, fountains, and other openings on Earth's surface were actually the portals or connecting lines between the Uku Pacha and the Kay Pacha. The most important God in this world is called ‘Supay’ although the Goddess Mama Cocha and the God Pachacamac also live there.

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