NEW YEAR AYMARA : With the voice of our ancestors, an eternal song unites the Pachamama (Mother of Earth and Time) and Pachakama (The niverse). This song is expressed by the birds at dawn, by the color of flowers and in the brightness of hope and unity we see in the stars. This song inspires us to unify our hearts in the joy of life and to understand the sacred journey, which, at this time of new beginnings, requires us to take an active part in the reordering the world (Pachakuti).
The Aymara New Year starts on June 21. This is the winter solstice, when the earth is furthest away from the sun. This marks the start of a new agricultural cycle and the time for planting. As such, this ceremony gives thanks to the sun and the Pachamama for the harvest and seeks to ensure that both will give energy to the new plants so that there will be a good harvest in the following year. This thanksgiving/blessing ceremony, originally called Marat’aqa, requires the efforts of Aymara shamans (Amuatas) to return the world to a state of order. This festival is perfectly integrated into our culture and nothing will loosen the grip it has on our hearts.
Tiawanaku is a spectacular pre-Inca archaeological site 70 km to the north of La Paz in Bolivia. Some argue that it is the most important religious site in South America. Even though we know little of its history, it is thought that it was the seat of an empire which extended across the Altiplano and Atacama desert. The ancient indigenous farmers and shepherds of the Andean Altiplano were masters at using their observations of astrological phenomenon in order to know when to perform various tasks such as planting and harvesting. Tiawanaku is thought to act as a calendar where the solstices and equinoxes are marked by the position of the rising sun on various parts of the site. During the winter solstice, which is the Aymara New Year (Machaq Mara), the dawn sun passes through the door of the temple of Kalasasaya, the main plaza in the complex, and touches the Ponce Monolith. Colorful ceremonies take place which are presided over by Andean shamans (Amautas) who receive the dawn sun and make sacrificial offerings to the Pachamama and the sun. This year, the ceremonies mark the beginning of the 5514th year of the Aymara Calendar. The Amyara are the modern day descendants of the Tiawanakus and today their culture extends across the Bolivian Altiplano to Peru and Chile.