The Incas placed great importance on the sun and moon. Solstice and Equinox dates were recognised as being very significant each year, but none more than Inti Raymi the summer solstice. In Ecuador these dates are still celebrated with colorful festivals especially in indigenous communities.
Inti Raymi, the festival of the sun celebrated on summer solstice, is the most well known festival in the annual indigenous calendar. The word Inti Raymi comes from the Quechua language, Inti means Sun, and Raymi means Festival. It is a celebration to worship Taita Inti (Father Sun). They sacrifice fruits and produce to him for the heat and energy that allows plants to grow, and they welcome a new cycle of life for Pacha Mama (Mother Earth).
Inti Raymi is considered the most important of the four sacred pagan festivals celebrated by indigenous Andean cultures. It is held on the same date as the Pagan celebration of the Summer Solstice. This marks the longest day of the year, when the sun takes the longest path through the sky.
In Ecuador, Inti Raymi is also known as the Fiesta de San Juan. The Spanish conquistadores considered Inti Raymi to be a heathen celebration. So, to make it more palatable, they merged it with the Catholic celebration for Saint John the Baptist.
Paganism is still very much alive in Ecuador. Missionaries are still very much needed.