Saturday, April 23, 2011

Balinese Cockfight

4/20/11 (Amed, Bali) Yesterday afternoon, I stumbled upon a cockfight in the village center. An array of stalls formed a perimeter, selling fruit, snacks, satay, cigarettes, and cool drinks.

Inside, the atmosphere was tense with anticipation as men stroked their roosters, demonstrating their mettle, and riling them with thrusts at an opposing bird. Eventually, two were chosen for combat, and handlers retreated to lash a blade to their feet with many twists of long, red thread

The ring cleared and crowd deepened; then the birds were released in flew at one another. Fierce pecking alternated with leaps as one rooster would kick at another. 
The scene turned ever more gruesome as the blades bit, feathers flew and blood started dripping.  

Cheering ended when it became clear how the contest would end, and the handlers forced the finale by enclosing both birds in a loosely woven basket. Spectators broke, victors laughed and dirty bills exchanged hands.
An old man collected the dead an injured birds, retreating nearby to pluck and boil them. As people milled about and visited the food stands, the process repeated with two more birds being selected for the next fight

Margaret and I had seen a Balinese cock fight 21 years previously, before the sport was legalized. The crowd had been smaller and more furtive, but the atmosphere just as intense. I felt guilty watching then, just as I did yesterday. In addition to the animal cruelty, many men lose hard-earned money, which would be better spent on food for their families.

1 comment:

  1. i know it may sound silly dan, but that last paragraph brought tears to my eyes. sometimes the greatest irony is that we humans can also be quite inhumane -- in all cultures, rich or poor. thanks for the insight. ~steveT