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Northern Harrier

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Padwa, the Hingot War


Got war if you want it.

A little while ago I posted a video from the Peruvian Andes where villagers physically fight each other one day of the year and then go back to being friends. Takanakuy. Japan has its own annual fighting festival, Nada Kenka Matsuri, in Himeji City, where participants crash into each other's shrines and whack each other with bamboo poles. The Suri tribe in Ethiopia has an annual stick fighting day. Until World War II, the people of Lukang, Taiwan had a very serious annual rock fight.

Until shortly before the Second World War the men of Lukang, a seaport city on Taiwan's west coast, would gather every year on one day in the early spring, line up by surname, and throw rocks at their fellows of other surnames. They were thus throwing rocks at and dodging rocks thrown by men who were in other contexts their in-laws, mother's brothers, business partners, old school friends, allies in local factions, and fellow members of groups ranging from rotating credit societies to poety and wine circles. The rock fight was a festive public occasion; women and children watched and cheered; vendors sold snacks. Blood was shed and teeth lost, but old men who recall participating insist that no one was ever killed. The strife was sub-lethal and intramural (though Lukang never had a wall), participation being strictly limited to natives of the city.

Now I introduce you to this video, Padwa, the ultimate fireworks war between the warriors of Guantampura and Ruji in Depalpur tehsil, India. Great short video from the BBC. It occurs the day after Dwali.



What is not explained in the video is that people do get hurt and killed at the festival. The principal weapon is a hollowed nut filled with gunpowder, the hingot. 

Looks dangerous but fun. Rockfight squared. Serious cajones


By the way, rock fighting goes far back in our history, and played an epic part in the Civil War's battle of Manassas.

Before you condemn and start feeling too virtuous, I am sure many more people die or are injured playing football here in the United States every year. 

Just think how much more exciting the New Year's Eve roman candle display could have been last night?

Now I am neither a psychologist or cultural anthropologist, I just play one on the internet. 

But I do remember studies that showed that children that were allowed to play with toy guns and weapons were less likely to engage in real and actual violent behavior as adults. There is catharsis at play here.

And I would be willing to bet that the areas of the world that have these sorts of ritual episodic cultural interactions have a lower homicide rate than we do.

La Tomentina, the great tomato fight - Bunol, Spain

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting.....Rock on!!