Because the Inca religion was based around nature, the sun was perhaps the most important aspect of life because it provided warmth and light. Inti therefore is also known as the Giver of Life. He was worshipped mostly by farmers who relied on the sun to receive good harvests. Although he was the second most revered deity after Viracocha, he received the greatest number of offerings. The Sapa Inca, as ruler of the people, claimed divine heritage and direct descent from the Sun.
He and his wife, Pachamama, the Earth goddess, were generally considered benevolent deities. Mama Quilla, his sister and the moon goddess (Killa), is also considered his wife.
According to an ancient myth, Inti taught his son Manco Capac and his daughter Mama Ocllo the arts of civilization and they were sent to earth to pass this knowledge to mankind. Another legend however states Manco Capac was the son of Viracocha.
Inti ordered his children to build the Inca capital where a divine golden wedge they carried with them, would fall to the ground. Incas believed this happened in the city of Cuzco. The Inca ruler was considered to be the living representative of Inti.
Inti was also known as Apu Punchau, which means "leader of the daytime". Inti is represented as a golden disk with a human face. A great golden disk representing Inti was captured by the Spanish conquistadors in 1571 and was sent to the Pope via Spain. It has since been lost.
The festival of Inti Raymi, which honors the sun-god, now attracts thousands of tourists each year to Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Inca empire.
The festival of Inti was held during the winter solstice, which was around June 24 in the Incan Empire. The festival was held in Cuzco and was attended by the four sectors of Tahuantinsuyu. In Quechua, Inti Raimi, means "resurrection of the sun" or "the way/path of the sun." Military captains, government officials, and the vassals who attended were dressed in their best costumes, and carried their best weapons and instruments.
Preparation for the festival of Inti Raymi began with a fast of three days, where also during those days there was no fire lit and the people refrained from sexual intercourse. This festival itself would last nine days, and during this time the people consumed massive amounts of food and drink. There were many sacrifices as well which were all performed on the first day. After the nine days everyone would leave with the permission of the Inca back to their states.