Celebrating Disputes

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In many countries, conflict resolution usually involves sitting in an office and talking.

In the Bolivian town of San Pedro de Macha, however, it means dancing and fisticuffs.

Here, the Indigenous Quechua take to the streets annually for a ritual dance and hand-to-hand combat known as “Tinku,” Reuters reported.

The event – which translates to “encounter” in Quechua, or “physical attack” in the local Aymara dialect – is celebrated in a number of towns in May. Locals say the purpose of the festival is to resolve disputes rather than letting them fester.

The festival ranges from joyful dances and music to combat between two opponents. The fighting includes colorful traditional clothing and leather “montera” helmets with vibrant feathers that resemble those of the Spanish conquistadors.

The skirmishes are intended to demonstrate people’s dedication to Mother Earth, occasionally culminating in the presentation of a blood offering from the combat.

“This custom is very old. It was passed down to my father and my father left it to me,” said Jose Luis Paco Cruz, a Tinku “dancer” who traveled hundreds of miles to the town with his two sons.

Sometimes the fights can get quite violent and the police have to act as referees of a sort and stop them. Tinku onlookers and participants also help fighters who are bleeding or injured.

Fatalities are not uncommon but the presence of authorities helps ensure that the fighting isn’t fatal.

“Due to bad luck, sometimes one or two people fall to the ground and, with worse luck, they even die,” said Esteban Paco Taquichiri, Jose Luis’ grandfather. “But all this is part of our custom.”

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