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Mapuche Solstice Ritual Highlights Sacred River

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The Associated Press

Associated Press

Giovanna Dell'orto And Rodrigo Abd

Along the Pirmaiken River, Chile (AP) — Ritual immersion in the frigid waters of Chile's rapid Pirmaiken River In southern Chile, It was the culmination of a multi-day celebration of We Tripantu, one of the most sacred holidays for the Mapuche, the country's largest indigenous group.

Coinciding with the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere, the "New Year's" celebration in late June marks "the rise of the new sun" and signifies "change and renewal of life in every sense," says Amanda. Told. Uicharaf. She participated with her family in a ceremony led by her sister, a machi or healer and spiritual guide from the riverside Mapuche community.

Walking into Pirmaiken is a "symbolic way of regenerating energy," Huichalaf added. Most participants washed their faces, feet and ceremonial jewelry as frost covered the lush riverbanks.

In the Mapuche worldview, rivers and other natural elements are the homes of the spirits they worship. For example, Kintuantu, a protective spirit associated with Pirmaiken. Rivers are also believed to help carry the souls of those buried in clifftop cemeteries to their next incarnation.

``Water is a pure element. , ancestral spirits can travel.The river Pirmaiken carries all our information, carries all our spirituality, ”said Miralei Huicharaff of the town.

But Pirmaiken and the ceremonial facilities by the cemetery on the cliffs overlooking one of its wide bends are the culmination of Uicharaf's decade-long effort to reclaim his ancestral legacy. Among them, it is also a place that has led the fight against energy companies and others. land. This includes protests, occupations and clashes with police.

"Here we begin rebuilding the realm," Milarei Huicharaf speaks of a large meadow, performing a sacred ceremony on the day of the solstice. She thanks the spirits of nature and asks all living things for strength.

"In addition to being a healer, I am also a fighter for the Mapuche Resistance. Every day I wake up thinking about how I can continue to protect the river," she added.

One of them attended school in the nearby Kalimarin village, where Miraray conducted another Us Tripantu ceremony. About 85 percent of her 125 children in the school's preschool through her eighth grade classes are Mapuche, said Gerson Lopez, who has been a teacher at the school for 10 years. He added that although only half are involved in various indigenous communities, all love his June ceremony.