The Equinox: A connection to the Natural World

March 21, 2023
Andean Region, Culture

The Equinoccio, or Equinox in English, is an astronomical event that occurs twice a year when the sun is exactly above the equator. In Ecuador, this event is celebrated on March 21st, marking the beginning of the autumn season in the southern hemisphere and the spring season in the northern hemisphere.

For the indigenous people of Ecuador, the Equinoccio has been an important event for centuries. They believed that during this time, the sun and the earth were in perfect alignment, and that it was a time of balance and harmony in the natural world. It was also seen as a time of renewal and new beginnings, as the sun began its journey northward after the Equinoccio. It was an occasion to give thanks to the sun for its life-giving energy and for the bountiful harvest that would come in the months ahead. 


Today, the Equinoccio is still celebrated in many parts of Ecuador, both by indigenous communities and the general population. The actual celebrations vary depending on the region, but they often involve traditional music, dance, and food. In some communities, there are also spiritual ceremonies and rituals that are performed to honor the ancestors and the natural world. They would also perform dances and songs to honor the sun and the nature around them. 

One popular ritual involves the lighting of a fire, which is said to represent the warmth and energy of the sun. People will gather around the fire and offer prayers and blessings, asking for guidance and protection in the coming months. Others will perform cleansing ceremonies, such as taking a dip in a nearby river or lake, in order to wash away negative energy and start anew.

The Equinoccio is also a time for reflection and introspection. Many people take the opportunity to reflect on their lives and set intentions for the coming year. They may also use this time to connect with nature and appreciate the beauty and wonders of the natural world that sorrounds them. 

The Andean communities celebrate Pawkar Raymi, also known as the festival of blooming. In Ecuador, the rainy season subsides, and the time of tender grains begins, which will be used to make fanesca, a traditional dish served at the end of Lent. These days were considered by the ancestral people and their descendants as extraordinary, special, and sacred, which involved a deep connection with Pachamama. The Pachamama or Mother Earth, is a revered goddess of the indigenous people of the Andes. According to Inca legend, Pachamama is an ever-present and independent deity who controls fertility, presides over planting and harvesting, and causes earthquakes.

Overall, the Equinoccio is an important celebration in Ecuador that brings people together to honor the natural world and our place within it. Whether you participate in traditional ceremonies or attend modern festivals, this is a time of reflection, renewal, and connection to the natural world that is not to be missed.

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