Thirsty Deities

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Many people pray for rain but the residents of a town in southern Mexico have taken this to a new level, fighting each other to appease their rain deities, Agence France-Presse reported.

For centuries, Zitlala’s citizens have been engaging in a bloody indigenous ritual every year known as Atsatsilistli.

The violent tradition sees locals donning tiger costumes and whipping each other into submission. The blood spilled from the scuffle is considered an offering to Tlaloc, the Aztec god of rain.

“They say it’s a drop of blood for a drop of rain,” said Karina Vicente, a 22-year-old student who is participating in the ritual for the first time.

The centuries-old ritual begins with residents splitting into two groups and dancing under the hot sun to the rhythm of banda, a genre of Mexican music.

Then contestants duke it out for about five minutes, while spectators watch. Referees also watch that participants follow the rules.

At first, only men could participate in the ritualistic melee but recently, women began making their offerings to their thirsty deity.

“Now there’s equality,” noted resident Cleofas Cojito. “There isn’t so much machismo anymore.”

The purpose of the tradition is to ensure that the rainy season begins punctually, which is important for a community that relies on corn and other crops.

Watch here how Tlaloc’s thirst is quenched.

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