For most people, Christmas time beckons the onset of holiday cheer and joy, but for the people of Santo Tomas in Peru, thing get less huggy and more Fight Clubby. Sachin Bhandary, The Odd Traveller, signed up for a first hand experience of the festival of Takanakuy, which is the Quechuan word for ‘To hit each other’. This tradition of one on one fights begins on Christmas Day and goes on for the next few days across other villages and towns in the province of Chumbivilcas.

According to Sachin, “Men, children and women get inebriated and fight each other to settle scores, strengthen friendship or to simply to display strength. My objective though, was slightly different. It was to break a mental barrier and to participate in one of the weirdest traditions on the planet.”

A day after Christmas, Sachin witnessed a boozy crowd of revellers beating each other to smithereens in the town stadium, noting that the duels usually lasted for around 30 seconds. It’s also curious to note that the fights almost always ended with little to no blood, but a whole lot of smiles. This however, was not the case in the fight that Sachin decided to participate in – A much more brutal form of the practise in the village of Llique. 

“A masked face walked out of the crowd in a body hugging white t-shirt. One look and I knew he was much stronger than I. Though I did manage to smile, it was easily the most nervous moment of my life.”

Poor Sachin. 

“I had made a decision, I wasn’t going to defend myself. If I did, it would have meant that he would beat me to pulp. I was going swing my punches wildly the moment the referees signaled the start. Probably after 20 or 30 seconds into the fight(though it seemed like 30 minutes to me), I received a strong blow next to my right eye.”

Knocked out cold, but not before getting a few sweet hits in. Sachin’s opponent proceeded to help him up. They hugged, smiled and Sachin even got a rousing round of applause from a crowd that had lost its skepticism and gained newfound respect for this Indian madman. Bleeding eyebrow be damned, these kind of experiences is what life is truly about.

Damn Sachin, you got some big cojones!

Sachin Bhandary, The Odd Traveller, has taken a year off and made travelling his mission. He believes that travelling is a fantastic learning opportunity and is out to prove as much by setting examples! Reach out to him through his blog , Facebook and Twitter. Happy travelling!