Customs

Sacrifices and Rituals

Esquila de un llamo

On a stone table (altar) the Wilancha is performed, it is a sacrifice of blood, perfume, coca leaves, drops of alcohol and prayers. It consists of a ritual meal made with the sacrificed meat, along with traditional dances.

Sometimes a Yatiri consults with the hill: in loud voice, as if he was the condor who speaking, who in this ceremony represents the hill.

In these rituals the community expects the hill's spirit to give them the benefit of its productive waters and to protect them. Pachamama is honored in each activity or celebration and is offered coca leaves, drops of alcohol or whatever suits the occasion.

Foto: Pachallampe, invocando a la pachamama

The livestock fertility festival. This is celebrated in January or February, during the fertile summer rain season, when grass is abundant and llamas are born.

The cult takes place in the livestock corral and it is there also, that the Arco of life is raised.

Pachamama is the Earth Mother, celebrated as a universal fertility mother, who feeds all life on the planet.

Another festivity, which honors Pachamama for giving food and life, is the Pachallampe.

This ritual consists of a dance, which simulates the sowing of seed potatoes.

This festivity takes place twice a year: in May, for the harvest, and in November, for seeding. Every Pachallampe has a captain and is guided by the community.

Spiritual World III

Foto: Paisaje del Altiplano

The Aymara people consider their habitat as the Andean environment, which gave origin and well being to their community. For them there is only one reality, but two atmospheres compose it: the natural environment and the supernatural world.

It is a religious vision, which sanctifies nature and legitimates mans position over it.

The Aymara concept of the world came into being many years ago and it reflects the principal changes of their history. Today, they consider their traditions as those religious rites based on their ancestors and religion is the Christian rituals and symbols.

Ceremonies and Festivities

Enfloramiento del Ganado

Cattle adorned with flowers, carnivals and irrigation channel cleaning festivities ritually represent the Aymara spirituality.

The decoration of cattle with flowers is a rite destined to increase livestock through the cult to Mallku or the Mountain Spirit: for he is the owner of every wild animal.

This ritual consists of the branding of new cattle and the decoration all livestock with multicolor woolen ornaments.

Carnival is a syncretic rite associated to Lent and the harvest, as well to land and livestock fertility, this expression is a fusion of indigenous and Hispanic rites.

The irrigation channel cleaning is a festivity dedicated to the water cult, anciently known as the Amaru Myth, Snake in Quechua or Katari in Aymara. The cleaning and clearing of irrigation canals takes place just before the new sowing cycle.

Spiritual World II

Joven Aymara

Aymaras conceive their world as a space in which East or Orient is "In Front Of". Temples and houses must be oriented towards the east. It is the beginning of water and life. Sun and rains are also born there, referred to as the Cultivating Deity. Middle is valley and rivulets, is called "Near or Here".

West or Occident is "Under or Behind". This is where water is forbidden or vegetation ends; it is the desert. It is also the place where the dead go.

Viracocha went there, the Andean Cultivator, the Creator God, who went to the Grand Cocha (Pacific Ocean), after he finished creation.

These are the three Aymara spiritual areas.

Arajpacha symbolizes light and life. Towards the East.

Manquepacha symbolizes death and darkness. Towards the West.

And Akapacha it is the space between heaven and hell or between life and death, It is the center where the Aymara live.

The concept of Tinku deals with the balance and reciprocity between the community and those areas. (Tinku comes from Tincuy verb; to match, to equilibrate, to adapt.) The Aymara follow Tinku between Arajpacha and Manquepacha. They try to live in harmony, striving to reach the wisdom of Akapacha without going to any extremes.

Aymara Rituals

Bofedales

Every ritual celebration honors Achachillas or Mallkus (Lord or governor) and T'alla (Lady). They are appealed to them in times of crisis or need.

Specific and solemn Aymara cults take place in February: Godfather Days, when people climb to the hill and raise a pole called Arco which is dressed as a herdsman to represent the spirit.

Arco means new life after death; as well the seed, which falls in the soil, dies and produces new life.

This celebration takes place in houses, yards and corrals. The Aymara role is that of is celebrant, sacrificer or supplicant, however in religious festivities he is only a supplicant.

The wizard called Laika is the celebrant of rituals. The night is his domain, as well as caves, mines and inaccessible rock formations.

Spiritual World

Culto a los Achachillas

Customs

The oldest concept of Aymara tradition is directed to Achachillas or Mallkus, which are the snowy mountains spirits that surround the villages; along with Pachamama and Amaru Snake, linked to water, rivers and irrigation canals, which allow the subsistence of agricultural lands (3.000 - 2.000 Mts. height).

Religion

The Aymara belief system is a syncretic cyclical ritual, which coexists with and integrates two components: the prehispanic; an indigenous belief system from before the arrival of Spanish conquerors, and posthipanic religions, which introduced Catholic religion.

However, the Aymara vision of the cosmos is a whole, an annual cult following the rhythm of the seasons.