High up in the Bolivian Andes, indigenous communities meet in the plaza of Macha and take part in a ritual known as Tinku. The Tinku fight is an ancestral ritual in which thousands come together to fist fight. It also happens in Ocuri, close to Macha, but there it is not as violent. Indigenous people march to the plaza wearing traditional 'monteras', leather helmets that resemble those worn by Spanish conquistadors, playing traditional tunes on Andean panpipes. At dawn they charge into the plaza with a war-like energy, dancing, playing music, and preparing for battle. The women form circles and sing as the men fight it out. Any blood that spills on the ground is seen as an offering to the earth in exchange for a good harvest. Women also fight, but usually not with the same intensity. Tinku is a tradition that predates the arrival of the Spanish. It is said to bring better crops in the following year and release tension between communities, who may be holding grudges over stolen farm animals or land disputes. Young men also fight to show their bravery and perhaps secure a bride. Although the fiesta has deep roots in the indigenous past, it has been fused with Catholic belief. In the days before the fights, rituals take place in the isolated Andean communities. A large cross, 'Tata Wila Cruz', is wrapped in colourful ponchos and propped up on patios. Sheep are sacrificed as chicha, a traditional pre-Columbian corn drink, is offered to the cross. The people of the communities dance and drink in honour of the cross.
On the day of the fight, people arrive to the plaza holding the crosses, which often have masks resembling Jesus mounted on top. They throw offering of alcohol onto the church walls as they prepare for the fight. At first they fight one-on-one until the energy intensifies and communities begin to fight in large groups. Whips and fists are raised, some people fall to the ground beneath the fighting mobs and chaotic, large-scale battles break out. At this point the police step in and break up fights to prevent people being killed. The crowds then scatter into the back streets until the energy builds again and another fight erupts. Ritual battles were more common in the Andes in the past, but have been outlawed by the church and the police. They now only exist in a few isolated pueblos such as Macha and Ocuri where the tradition is so ingrained in the culture that it continues until today.