The people of Zitlala didn’t let an armed invasion get in the way of their annual rain festival yesterday.
Dressed in jaguar costumes and fueled by mezcal and banda music, men of the Guerrero town danced and fought in tribute to the rain god Tlaloc while 450 armed men stationed themselves in Zitlala in order to search for a missing woman.
According to Zach Zorich, writing a few year ago in Archaeology magazine, some archaeologists believe the rain god ritual, which is celebrated in other mountain communities of Guerrero as well, dates back 3,000 years.
In Zitlala’s Pelea de Tigres, or Tiger Fights, opponents fight each other with rope clubs in combat that appears to have few rules, governed more by honor than anything else, wrote Zorich.
The point is to please the god of rain on the eve of the planting season.
The event is named after tigers but most reports describe the costumes as being representative of jaguars, although some tiger costumes do appear.
The fighters represent various barrios, or neighborhoods. The winner is the one left standing after surviving punishing blows delivered by the clubs.
In spite of the intensity of the fights opponents are pals when it’s all over.
“Finally at the end of this event, participants are like friends without any rancor between the two and everything returns to normal,” according to a report by the news agency Agencia Informativa Guerrero.