“Aman huauquey manchanquichu (Do not be afraid)
Huauquellay fulano (my brother John Doe)
Ya huar mayo pahuactimpas (although it runs rivers of blood)
Huauquellay fulano (my brother)
Rumi chicchi chayactimpas (although stone hail falls)
Huauquellay fulano (my brother John Doe)”
The Chiaraje is a ritual battle that takes place every January 20th in the province of Canas (Cusco) situated in the Souther Andes of Peru. It is part of an ancient tradition rooted in the worship of Pachamama, the goddess who represents Mother Earth and main supplier of life in Andean worldview. Peasants from different local communities gather in Chiaraje, a sacred extensive pampa surrounded by hills and located over 4000 meters above sea level. There, men face each other with huaracas (slingshots), stones, and whips while women dance and watch the battle. The main purpose of this ritual is to deliver blood to the Pachamama and thus ensure a prosperous year for the crops.
Although the wrestling is real the three communities of Canas are not enemies, but rather friendly neighbors who share a common tradition, and whose main economical activity is farming. The rules of the battle state that one of the three communities will become the winner by pushing back the other two and taking possession of the top of the mountain. The community that occupies the most land wins. During the battle, men are often injured. Their wounds receive immediate care and, if they feel healthy enough, they return to the field to continue with the ritual. In some cases, they die due to heavy loss of blood. The comuneros believe that those killed in battle will bring with them a good omen of rainy season.
The productivity of the Pachamama is at stake, and this requires a large amount of energy. The spilled human blood feeds the earth, nourishes it, makes it fertile throughout the year. Win a town or another, blood guarantees prosperity. The bodies of the dead are in themselves an offering, and the combatants accept this risk in advance.