The Kichwas are a community of indigenous Ecuadorian Indians who celebrate their festivities around the solstices and equinoxes.

Indeed, the calendar of traditional festivals in the Andes is based on the cycle of the sun. These are not religious events, but rather those linked to changes in the environment.

On the equatorial line, there are two main periods, one beginning on March 21 and giving rise to the Paucar Raymi ceremony, which in Kichwa means the Festival of the Blossom, and the other on September 23 with the Festival of the Mother or Koya Raymi. These are the equinoxes, when the sun is perpendicular to the equatorial line, so there is no shadow at noon on the sundial (there are places in Ecuador where you can witness these magical moments in the best conditions). From March 21 onwards, the sun “passes” to the northern hemisphere, reaching its lowest point on the northern horizon on the day of the solstice. The opposite happens on the southern side from September 23, giving us nights of equal length to the days.

March 21, Kichwa celebration

March 21 is a fundamental date in Andean cultures, as it signifies renewal, when the sun settles on its throne and brings its youthful energy to all expressions of life on earth. You’ll find many other names for this festival, but the spirit remains the same. It’s the occasion for all kinds of purification rituals, with the help of water and flowers.

September 23, Kichwa celebration

September 23rd is the time when the Moon (Quilla in Kichwa) and the Sun (Inti) impregnate Mother Earth, the Pachamama, thus initiating the rainy and sowing season. But it’s also a time when illnesses are more common, leading to protective rituals invoking Mother Moon and purifying oneself physically and spiritually. Like March 21, this is a deeply feminine festival. Rituals are performed in huacas (sacred places or places charged with symbolic objects), often corresponding to water springs or caves. However, due to the syncretism of the society, these places are often replaced by Catholic effigies, such as the Virgin Mary at the autumn equinox.

June 21, Kichwa celebration

Next come two festivals of a more masculine nature, corresponding to the solstices, when the Sun is furthest from the Earth. First, on June 21, when the sun is farthest north, with a festival called Inti Raymi. Its counterpart is Kapak Raymi, on December 21, when the Sun is furthest south. The latter corresponds to a period of plenitude and abundance. And there are 3 days of tranquility when the sun seems motionless at the extreme points, which for Andean cultures symbolizes death followed by rebirth. This is often the occasion for symbolic burial rituals, followed by resurrection.

Inti Raymi is the most important and best-known festival in the indigenous world. It coincides throughout June with the festivities of Corpus Cristi, St. John’s Day and St. Peter’s Day.

It’s the moment when Nature’s cycle comes to an end, and the harvest is distributed before a well-deserved period of rest.

Reciprocity becomes the overriding value of these celebrations, reinforcing social cohesion, alliances between families and promises of marriage. It also becomes a privileged moment to assert political power.

This clearly shows that the solar calendar in these cultures is more than just a tool; it is intimately linked to the agricultural calendar and to the biological and natural rhythms that run through society as a whole.

This cosmovision finds its essence and its representations in the symbol of the Chacana, omnipresent in the Andes.