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News > Culture

Bolivians Raise Hands to Sun to Usher in Aymara New Year

  • Bolivian President Evo Morales joins a ceremony marking the Aymara new year in Orinoca, June 21, 2017.

    Bolivian President Evo Morales joins a ceremony marking the Aymara new year in Orinoca, June 21, 2017. | Photo: EFE

Published 21 June 2017

Quechuas and Aymaras hold two festivals annually for sowing and harvesting, which coincide with the summer and winter solstices.

As dawn broke over the city of Tiwanaku in Bolivia's La Paz on Wednesday, Indigenous Aymara raised their hands towards the first rays of the morning sun to welcome the Aymara New Year, 5525.

The celebrations in the religion of the Tiwanakota culture began at dawn in cold temperatures as followers warmed to the first rays of the winter solstice sun.

The celebration took place amid the ruins of the ancient city of Tiwanaku, with religious monuments such as the Akapana Pyramid and the Ponce monolith creating the backdrop for the festivities, which included dances and offerings to Mother Earth or Pachamama, so that crops and the earth will bear fruit in the new year.

Bolivian Vice-President Alvaro Garcia Linera was in attendance this year and led the ceremonies along with traditional Aymara religious priests.

The Aymara believe father sun "Al Tata Inti" gives his warmth to Earth on the New Year, heralding the onset of spring. In pre-Hispanic America, native people depended much on agriculture, and many of their rites are aimed at obtaining the blessing of the gods to ensure an abundant crop.

The calculation of the year 5525 results from the sum of the five cycles, each of which last a thousand years of social history of the original peoples until the arrival of Christopher Columbus in Abya Yala — present-day America — in 1492. Those 5,000 years plus 525 years of the arrival of the Spaniards total the 5,525 years.

Similar ceremonies are held in the northern hemisphere on this day where people celebrate the summer solstice in locations such as the U.K.'s Stonehenge.

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