For Indigenous people around the world, this is not only a day to pay tribute to nature but to educate people on wildlife protection and environmental care.
Every Aug. 1, the Indigenous people in South America pay tribute to Pachamama, which in Quechua translates to World Mother. For the Andes region, not just the date but the whole month of August is dedicated to this Mother Earth deity.
The desire of people to connect with nature is also found in many civilizations. To appreciate nature’s sustainability is common across communities. In Mexico, for example, to the Aztecs it was a deity called Tonantzin and for the ancient Greeks it was Gaia.
Indigenous people in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru celebrate Pachamama Day with different ceremonies and rituals to honor Mother Earth, the fertility goddess who oversees harvesting, farming, crops, embodies the mountains, and even causes earthquakes.
Some believe their problems and the world’s drastic climate change, including hurricanes and tsunamis arise because humans are taking too much from Pachamama.
After being conquered by Spain in the 16th century, the Indigenous population was converted to Spain’s official religion: Catholicism.
But the forced conversion was met by rejection by the local people and the conquerors decided to mix the figure of their Virgin Mary to unite with the Pachamama to ease the transition.
Thus, the main Roman Catholic celebrations and dates are deeply connected to the Indigenous calendar and harvesting periods.
On Pachamama Raymi, which means feast, people work on developing a close relationship with nature and the land, performing a ritual to give back to Earth what it has given them.
The belief is that people must nurture the Pachamama with good food, including beans and potatoes and beverages.
The tributes include food, alcohol, coca leaves and cigars, that will also be used for cleaning rituals to scare off evil spirits in their homes.
As August is the coldest month of the winter in the southern Andes, campesinos honor the deity to prepare for the harsh winter days ahead that will affect their crops.
The cosmological principles of water, earth, sun, and the moon are deeply connected to the Pachamama, which has inspired hundreds of organizations to educate people on the importance of natural balance to sustain life.