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Annual punching ceremony to start New Year conflict free

Forget about Festivus, which is a time for airing grievances. In Peru, they fight out their old conflicts. 

The annual Takanakuy festival in Chumbivilcas, Peru, brought together hundreds of costumed competitors on December 25 to take part in the traditional fighting ritual aimed at settling old scores before the year’s end.

The event aims to serve as a kind of justice system to quell simmering quarrels between community members, thus allowing participants to start the new year conflict-free.

The contestants, many using colorful face masks and Andean horse-riding gear, greeted each other with handshakes and hugs before lunging into battle.

Judges and referees were on hand to declare the winners in fights stemming from legal matters to stolen lovers.

Some however, came out for the pure thrill of the fight in addition to the pre-brawl bashes, which included days of drinking and dancing into the wee hours.

David Veras, a judge at this year’s festival, claimed that in addition to settling disputes, the organized confrontations also allow participants to test their physical might.

“It’s the way to solve many problems, and it’s also a way for them to measure their strength,” said Veras.

While occasional impromptu appeals concerning fight results are not unheard of, most combatants accept the judges’ verdict and mark the end of the row – winners and losers alike – with celebration amidst a sense of justice served.