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Aymara New Year at Tiwanaku

The Aymara new year tradition is quite different from those I have been accustomed to in other places. Rather than celebrating the night before, culminating at midnight, the Aymara celebrate at dawn on June 21 (winter solstice here in the southern hemisphere). This morning, I was up at 4 am to prepare for the drive out to Tiwanaku for the new year celebration.

Thousands of people were gathered at Tiwanaku, but of course that is not the only place to celebrate.  In fact, on the way there we passed over a ridge and I saw hundreds of people gathering there to see the sun come up over the eastern range of the Andes and make their ritual offerings to ask for the blessing of the god(s) for the coming year.

Tiwanaku played host to the President and Vice President of Bolivia, the Minister of Culture, the Governor of La Paz, and many other high officials.  A good share of the Diplomatic Corps also braved the cold.

The President and Vice President, as well as other officials, placed offerings on the pyre.

The President and Vice President, as well as other officials, placed offerings on the altar.

After all the offereings had been placed on the altar, the yatiri, or holy man, lit the fire and said a prayer.

After all the offereings had been placed on the altar, the amauta, or holy man, lit the fire and said a prayer.

The prayer was given in Aymara, with translation into Spanish.  I could pick out words here and there in the Aymara, but can’t understand it yet.

It was a beautiful dawn. This is the wiphala, one of the two official flags of Bolivia (and the traditional flag of native peoples of the Andes) against the sunrise.

It was a beautiful dawn. This is the wiphala, one of the two official flags of Bolivia (and the traditional flag of native peoples of the Andes) against the sunrise.

Sunrise
Sunrise

Everyone's hands in the air, celebrating the arrival of father sun and of the new year, 5521 by the traditional Aymara count.

Everyone’s hands in the air, celebrating the arrival of father sun and of the new year, 5521 by the traditional Aymara count.

 

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Pingback from Larry Memmott's Blog » Tiwanaku
Time June 21, 2013 at 7:26 pm

[…] types.  Last year the Vice President of Bolivia was married in a ceremony here.  Each year Aymara New Year is celebrated here, as […]

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