Peru celebrates festival aimed at fighting to settle old scores

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Participants in Peru's annual slugfest battled it out on Sunday. (Reuters)

Participants in Peru's annual slugfest battled it out on Sunday in the local Takanakuy fighting festival aimed at settling old scores and starting the new year afresh.

Takanakuy combines the native words 'takay', meaning fight and 'nakuy', meaning mutual, and is celebrated each year at Christmastime in an event that community members say resolves conflicts and improves relationships.

The yearly brawls are held throughout the province of Chumbivilcas in the department of Cusco and are set against a backdrop of music, drinking and a generally festive atmosphere.

Those preferring not to slug it out can can watch fists fly from spectator stands set up beside the makeshift fighting rings.

The mayor was on hand to celebrate the custom.

"For us, it's a custom. A tradition where the Chumbivilcans have the tradition of the great Takanakuy every December 25, and our blood boils," Chumbivilcas Mayor David Vera said.

Judges and referees are on hand to declare the winners in fights over issues ranging from affairs of the heart to financial and legal disputes.

The event serves as a form of community justice aimed at quashing conflict between residents and allowing participants to start the new year in peace.

The mayor noted new rules of play.

"We are making rules for what is our 'Huaylia Chumbivilcana' as it's now part of our national heritage, and so there's no longer fighting between kids or women. It's only between courageous men," he said.

While some fight verdicts are contested, in most cases participants accept the judge's decision with both victors and losers celebrating their hard fought clean slates and restored sense of camaraderie and a hug.
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