The festival called Takanakuy is a Christmas tradition in the Peruvian Andes, specifically in the region of Cusco. The Christmas fighting festival takes place on December 25th and is known for its tradition of resolving conflicts through physical combat. The festival is a blend of both pre-Columbian and Spanish cultural influences.
What’s the story behind Peru’s Christmas fighting festival?
The festival known as Takanakuy is an indigenous custom of the Quechua people, and it has been practiced for centuries. In Quechua, Takanakuy means “to hit each other.” And that is precisely what happens during the festival.
However, the fighting is not violent or aggressive, and the purpose is not to harm or injure anyone. Instead, the fighting is more of a symbolic gesture that aims to release any tension or pent-up emotions that may have built up over the year.
Takanakuy is a way to start the new year with a clean slate, free of any grudges or resentments.
How does the Takanakuy festival work?
The festival starts with a parade, in which participants dress up in colorful costumes and march through the streets playing traditional music and dancing. The participants are divided into different groups, each representing a different neighborhood or community. The groups then make their way to a designated central location. This is where the fighting will take place.
Once they reach the central location, the participants form a circle. Then, one by one, they step forward to challenge someone from another group.
The challengers will then take turns exchanging blows until one of them falls to the ground. Once a person falls, the other person stops hitting them and helps them up. The fallen person then has the opportunity to challenge someone else.
The fighting is conducted in a controlled manner, and there are judges present to ensure that it remains a safe and fair fight.
While the fights are the main attraction of the Takanakuy festival, there are also other activities and rituals that take place. For example, before the fighting begins, the participants will often make offerings to Pachamama, the Inca goddess of the earth, to ask for her protection during the festival. Additionally, there are often dance performances, music concerts, and food stalls with traditional Andean cuisine.
What’s the point?
The festival is a way for the Quechua to honor their heritage and promote unity among different communities. During the festival, old rivalries and grudges are put aside for the sake of a peaceful future. (Maybe this is where the idea for Festivus’ Airing of Grievances came from!)
Of course, Takanakuy comes with some controversy. There are people who view the festival as violent and barbaric. There are also concerns about the safety of participants. However, supporters of the festival argue that it is a vital part of their cultural heritage and should be preserved.
In recent years, Takanakuy has gained international recognition after being featured on numerous travel sites. As a result, it has become a popular tourist attraction.
While tourism brings economic benefits to the region, it also raises concerns about the commercialization of the festival and the potential for its cultural appropriation. And don’t the rest of us already experience enough fighting around Christmas? — WTF fun facts
Photo via Mídia NINJA