Tiawanaku, Bolivia, June 20, 2007
—In the Southern Hemisphere, the winter solstice is time for a New Year's celebration for many Bolivians. But you won't see colored streamers or a ball drop around here anytime soon. That's because the celebration dates back to more than 2,000 years ago.
The Bolivian witch doctor pictured above in Tiawanaku stands with a Wiphala (Indian flag) and waits for the arrival of the solstice.
The winter solstice marked the beginning of winter—and for some indigenous Bolivians, the start of the year 5,515, according to a traditional calendar
Now in ruins, Tiawanaku was once the capital of the Aymara, a highly advanced pre-Incan society. Descendents of the ancient people today number 1.6 million. Many gather each year in Tiawanaku to watch as the sun's rays shine through the gates of the Kalasasaya temple and illuminate the ancient city's ruins.
The Wiphala consists of seven colored stripes, each representing a meaningful aspect of life for the Aymara people. For example, the red signifies the Earth and the Andean man, while yellow signifies energy. As may be expected, green represents natural resources, and blue represents the heavens.
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Photograph by Jose Luis Quintana/Reuters