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Cockfights, a popular sport in Kerala
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Cockfights, a popular sport in Kerala

Cockfights, once patronised by royalty, still popular in many parts of Kerala.

By Juhan Samuel

Kasaragod (Kerala), May 11 : Cockfights, once patronised by royalty, still popular in many parts of Kerala.

The cruel sport has birds mauling each other often till death, as the encircling crowds cheer and exchange money on every winning stroke.

Held as a ritual, the cockfight is popular in northern parts of Kerala, mainly in Kasaragod District.

"It is believed that offering of cock blood to the Theyam Gods will protect family members. The fight is associated with this tradition," said N. Laxmanan, a local temple official

The ritual has emerged as one of the most favourite sports of rural folk, especially for betting, as a large number of men gather on this occasion and gamble aggressively on the roosters.

Despite protests by animal rights groups and crackdowns by police, these people have refused to give up their 'traditional sport'.

"This is a mythological ritual in these regions and associated with temple festivals but now people have started misusing this tradition and started gambling on this ritual, the person loses if the cock runs away or killed by the other cock," said Gobi K, a social activist.

Believed to be the world's oldest sport, cockfighting has become a business for many, and breeders spend a huge amount of money on rearing roosters, which are tailor-made to fight.

From rich landlords to the poorest of toddy tappers, villagers invariably raise "fighter cocks" at home, to be used for the duels.

The natural spurs of roosters are sawed off and replaced by razor sharp steel blades. They are also given drugs to maximize their aggression and stamina.

A cockfight is a blood sport between two specially trained roosters held in a ring called a cockpit.

The combatants, known as gamecocks or cocks, are specially bred birds, conditioned for increased stamina and strength.

The comb and wattle are cut off in order to facilitate the placement of a hood over the birds' heads to keep them calm prior to the beginning of a fight and to decrease the potential for wounds and bleeding in these fleshy areas.

Cocks possess congenital aggression toward all males of the same species, which is amplified through training and conditioning

In some regional variations, the birds are equipped with either gaffs or knives tied to the leg in the area where the bird's natural spur has been partially removed. A cockspur is a bracelet (often made of leather) with a curved, sharp spike which is attached to the leg of the bird.

ANI

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