By Steve `Grumpy’ Collins, on May 31st, 2011
As the name suggests, Ecuador is planted firmly on the Equator. Given that the country is situated both in the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere they can celebrate two summers or two winters each year, or even have two of each simultaneously, but Ecuador has made the decision to celebrate the Summer Solstice in June each year, just to avoid local confusion.
Every year in the month of June in Ecuador is the Inti Raymi, or the Festival of the Sun and Harvest. Inti Raymi is one of the most important events of Ecuador’s indigenous peoples, as it is an ancient celebration of the Andean people connected with the summer solstice, which coincides with the period that ends the annual Andean agricultural cycle.
Because Ecuador is plonked right on the Equator, they refer to themselves as being in the Centre of the World, and for this reason are developing major events to celebrate the Summer Solstice celebration, so have created the Festival del Sol, which this year will be held on 19 June.
To help celebrate the Festival del Sol, many popular Ecuadorian performers will entertain festival goers. Then, on Tuesday, June 21 which is the actual day of Summer Solstice a more traditional celebration of national music and folkloric dance will be held, giving participants the opportunity to experience local customs which hark back to the days of the Inca.
Although the biggest celebration is held in the capital, Quito, the Inti Raymi is actually held in various cities and towns all over over Ecuador. As well as the traditional singing and dancing Part of the celebrations include the indigenous communities gathering together at local springs, rivers and waterfalls, many of which are considered to be sacred, for a communal ritual bath.
This practice of communal bathing is an Andean tradition which represents the cleansing of the human spirit, with adherents believing that it aids the recovery of one’s energy and revitalizes a person’s relationship with Mother Nature.