Bolivians welcome Aymara New Year

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

"Today in the morning, we offer an offering to the Pachamama, the mountains, and the Father sun asking for the sun's energies. Today we celebrate the year 5,530, so we make petitions to the Father Sun," said Placida Chambi, a Bolivian traditional teacher.

Indigenous authorities started a bonfire and made offerings to Pachamama, or Mother Earth, and Father Sun in search of a bountiful crop and good health during the ancestral ceremony in El Alto.

The Aymara believe "Al Tata Inti", the Father Sun, gives his warmth to Earth on the New Year, heralding the onset of spring.

"We also ask for health, strength, and luck. We ask the sun god for that. That is why we all raise our hands to the sun God," said Cirilo Cruz, a Bolivian traditional teacher.

In pre-Hispanic America, native people depended much on agriculture, and many of their rites were aimed at obtaining the gods' blessing to ensure an abundant crop.

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