Fighting Festival

Fighting Festival


Takanakuy is a Peruvian festival, like any other, it involves food, drinks, music, and dancing. The unique component is the public fights.


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Regions across the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes have traditional fighting festivals and ceremonies as an outlet for this type of mountain-born aggression. Rules about who fights whom and what weapons you can use (if any) vary from place to place, but the general gist remains the same, as does the expected goal of social catharsis and the collective venting of pent-up steam. In Santo Tomas, the festival is known as Takanakuy, everybody fights everybody, and it happens bright and early Christmas morning.

After a few days of preliminary drinking and dancing in costumes that combine the best aspects of traditional Andean horse-riding gear with the most nightmarish aspects of traditional acid trips, the residents of Santo Tomas wake up and head to the local bullfighting ring to beat each other silly.

Men, women, children, the elderly, the infirm, and (especially) the inebriated they all pair off, wrap their bare hands with scarves and give each other a friendly hug before walloping each other full-force in the face. While there are local referees with Roman-style whips to keep the fights from getting too one-sided and an entire crowd to rush in if anybody hits someone on the ground, the level of violence is still miles beyond what goes on in the average boxing or UFC ring. And often with good cause.


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