By Rudy Chalco
When talking about the religion of the Inkas, who made Cuzco its capital, we have to keep in mind that we are talking about an animistic religion which venerates to Pachamama as one its main deities, please note that we are using the present tense because even nowadays, but specially in Cuzco and the Andes of Perú.
First of all, let us start with the definition of the word, it comes from Quechua, language, still spoken these days in Cuzco, Pacha means Universe, World, time, space and Mama means Mother.
Pachamama for us, is such an important Goddess, which is worshipped anywhere, she does not require any temple, place or time in particular to honor her, nonetheless August is the preferred month to give her an offering called “Haywariska” or giving-up, unlike other religions like Catholicism where their followers ask for something, on the Inka religion you thank Pachamama for the good things she was providing us during the past year.
Cuzco and other places along the Andes prefer to start this celebration on August the first, because, according to the Inka Calendar, then is the beginning of the farming year, that day or night to be more specific we have to hire a local Shaman called Pak´o or pampa-misayoc, Cuzco has the privilege to have one of the last groups of people who preserve this ancient tradition and they are supposed to be the best Pak´os in the region, so they previously will ask you if you want to thanks to Pachamama for your Health, Work, Money or even Love, according to your request he will tell to buy certain items but in general it will contain: A large amount of Coca leaves, candies, cookies, small figurines made out of lead, different seed and grains representing the regions of the country, Chicha (fermented corn beer) and wine.
Once everybody is been reunited around a table covered by a nice cloth or tapestry he will start handing out Coca leaves to every one of the participants and they have to choose groups of three Coca leaves which do not present rips or haven been torn, this is called “k´intu” and you prepare one for every member of your family, groups of relatives your office mates or friends in general, once everybody has their leaves ready they are given back to the Pak´o who will proceed to put them around the offering, as you hand out your k´intu your say your name and your intentions will be sealed by giving a warm breath plus your name on the leaves.
Now our pak´o will proceed to convene all the holy mountains called Apus near to the area, and he will also call to the holy lakes, and so part of the energy of them will be present on the ceremony, now he will thank them for everything and ask them to please keep on protecting to the participants of the ceremony and their friends and relatives.
Finally all the k´intus, offerings, figurines and others will be places together around a group of flowers which between Cuzco and Puno are usually Carnations, then it is wrapped up and burned. Although the ceremony does not finish there, our pak´o will go back to the holly place where he burned the offering and will read the ashes, according to that we may know if Pachamama was happy or not with the offering, 99% of the times she is and of course we celebrate it.