Coastal districts go TN way defying courts on Pongal festivities

  • Cock fights in AP, as TN stays firm on Jallikattu

Amaravati: Even as the court refused to give permission for the traditional cock-fights in Andhra Pradesh and Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu, people of the two States are firm on continuing their traditional form of celebrating Pongal.

The coastal districts, particularly Krishna, Guntur and the two Godavari districts have already started organising cock fights in the remotest areas. It is for these three-days that hundreds of people nurture the roosters all through the year, while thousands wait to watch the colourful fight. People feel that the festival loses its sheen if the cock fights are not organized. After all, the fights have been part of the culture for centuries.

Bhimavaram, Undi, Tanuku and Denduluru in Godavari districts, Nuzvid, Vissannapet and Tiruvur in Krishna district are very popular for the rooster fights during Sankranti. The three days of the festival mark thousands of people watching the fights organised away from the villages.

Round-the-clock gambling, liquor, food and prostitution are associated with the cock fights. Gambling sees betting running into a few lakhs of rupees all through the three days with punters betting on 13 cards, 3 cards and inside-outside blind game. This runs even in the night under the specially arranged lighting. The liquor merchants have special stalls which are auctioned by the organisers and they are open 24 hours. Even prostitutes are made available in the vicinity for the three days.

While the courts and the police raise objections to organising the traditional cock fights, there is not much opposition for the gambling, liquor and prostitution organised along with the fights. Mango gardens, which are more in number and each extended to 25 acres to 100 acres turn into the venues for the cock fights and other activities during the thre- day merrymaking. The cab owners and auto drivers would have field day during these days taking people to the venue and bringing them back.

The roosters, which are nurtured for Pongal are priced highly during the period, particularly at the venues. The price of each rooster, depending on its colour and variety, ranges from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1.50 lakh during the three days. Some of them are fed with cashews and dates everyday all through the year, while a few of them are given liquor and non-vegetarian food, including prawns to be strong and withstand a few cuts of the knife during the fight.

The police are the greater beneficiaries of these fights as the organisers pay huge amount to turn a blind eye to the events organised in their areas. The organisers, who collect money from the stall holders of gambling, liquor, food, parking and prostitution, besides the rooster owners, pay to the police and the local leaders to ensure that the event goes without disturbance.

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