Takanakuy: The fascinating Peruvian tradition of solving conflicts with fists

Takanakuy is a traditional festival that takes place in some communities in the Andean region of Peru, specifically in the province of Chumbivilcas in the Cusco region. This event is celebrated every December 25, coinciding with Christmas.

The term “Takanakuy” comes from Quechua and means “to hit each other” or “to fight.” During this holiday, people who have had disagreements, conflicts or disputes during the year have the opportunity to resolve their differences through controlled and agreed fights. It is important to note that these fights have a ritual and symbolic nature, and are carried out with strict rules to avoid serious injuries.

The participants gather in a central square and, in front of authorities and spectators, resolve their problems through agreed-upon fights, which end with a hug that symbolizes reconciliation and forgiveness. The main objective of this tradition is to promote the peaceful resolution of conflicts, restore harmony among community members, and begin the new year with a spirit of unity and solidarity.

Origins and History Of Takanakuy

The Takanakuy tradition traces its origins back to the colonial era, a time when the Spanish authorities forced enslaved individuals to fight one another for entertainment on Christmas Day, December 25th. Despite its origins in this oppressive period, Takanakuy underwent a transformation after the Spanish colonial rule ended.

Following the colonial period, Takanakuy merged with the Huaylía, a celebration involving songs and dances of Incan resistance. This fusion strengthened the tradition, turning it into a mechanism for conflict resolution while preserving the warrior spirit. It became a way for communities to settle disputes and maintain their cultural identity.

The town of Santo Tomás has been observing Takanakuy since before the introduction of Christmas, which is a Western tradition. For many years, this town was neglected by judicial and police authorities. As a result, Takanakuy became a means to address issues within the community, serving as a form of justice and conflict resolution.

Development of the Event

Every December 25, on Christmas Eve, the Takanakuy takes place in Chumbivilcas towns such as Santo Tomás, among others. The community meets in a designated central plaza, where clear rules for confrontations are established. It is important to highlight that this event is carried out with respect and under the supervision of local judges.

The participants, previously agreed to face each other, prepare physically and mentally to exchange controlled blows. These confrontations are not intended to cause serious harm, but rather as a way to release accumulated tensions and reconcile. After the fight, they shake hands and hug each other as a symbol of forgiveness and renewal of ties.

Santo Tomás is located at a distance of seven hours from Cusco. With a height of 3,481 meters above sea level. Its more than 24,492 inhabitants are mainly dedicated to commerce, livestock and mining activities.

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