Every December 25th, throughout the world various celebrations for Christmas take place, family unity and peace in general are celebrated.  This is also true in the Cuzco province of Chumbivilcas, but it is not the only thing that is celebrated in that remote place in the Andes where violence is the popular resource to amend disrespect, rivalries, love affairs, basically settling accounts. A mix of fight tournaments and a court of law.

The word “Taka” in Quechua means punch or hit and “Nakuy” make each other something; it is a tradition in which problems between communities are resolved through violence.

Meanwhile, the date of love and peace is at noon in the Plaza de Armas, the local parish celebrates in its own way, offering children a cup of chocolate with panetón, a cake specially prepared for Christmas and New Year´s. The Chocolatada, is his way of fighting the Takanakuy, which is a pagan tradition. Meantime, most of the residents are at the other end of town, at the plaza of bulls.   At Takanakuy no one is a professional athlete. There are no official arbitrators, much less the police, judges or notaries. What happens there is a matter for the people and remains in the town.
Participants come from many communities, some as far as 3 hours away, to include Cusco and coastal cities. They chant, “the blood is calling us”. Figuratively it is so, given the nature of its origins. History is a great tournament where nations mercilessly slaughter each other. XIV century. The Incas fought against the Chumpihuillcas (Quechua voice of the current Chumbivilcas), the Incas win. XIX Century. Peruvians defy the Spanish. They win. Chumbivilcas passes from hand to hand, from winner to winner, until it becomes one more ingredient in this country, where dozens of old nations, victorious and defeated, mingle while remaining totally what they were. Therefore, they say, in Chumbivilcas people still think-live-celebrate-judge in a very particular way.

The festivity begins with a rite, the ever-present payment to the Pachamama (mother earth), and to her three tutelary Apus (spirits of the mountains that protect men). The bullring is crowded with diverse people, heterogeneous clothing, some are dressed up, with hats, with caps adorned with animal heads that can be cougars, deer, eagles and ducks. The bullring exhibits excitement of small towns, where this holiday creates a feeling of anarchy.

The fights last a few seconds between 10 and 25, they are chaotic, crazy fists at first and then the verbose blows come, the end of the fight is a fall. The judges are the ronderos, people from the communities that helped the country during the era of terrorism in the 90’s, now the enemy is the cattle rustlers, thieves.

If you were interested in this episode please see the favorable recommendations:

  • Takanacuy. When the blood boils – Victor Layme. Anthropological book
  • Where do Cholos come from? – Marco Avilés. Test
  • Takanakuy – Scott Bosley. Short film

Although it is an unorthodox tradition in the 21st century, it has continued as a tradition from the past and is respected by the communities and residents of the area.

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