Handlers from different parts of the State gather in the village for the event
The harvest season has made those who rear roosters and rooster duel enthusiasts flock to the famed arenas of Poolamvalasu in Karur district over the past three days. Thousands of people converged at the makeshift duel rings that have sprouted over night in this dusty village near Aravakurichi to watch the intense fight of roosters trained for the purpose.
Poolamvalasu and its surroundings are echoing the screeches and squeals of the birds fighting not just to save their skin but also to safeguard the honour of their owners.
With the festive spirit permeating the environment the villagers have taken time off to indulge in the fight.
If Madurai and Tiruchi are famed for jallikattu, Poolamvalasu in Karur district is known all over the State for its traditional seval kattu. Handlers bring thousands of roosters to take part in the duels, which have assumed legendary status, organised at Karur village.
Owners and handlers raise red, black, white and tan coloured roosters especially for the Poolamvalasu duels during Pongal time. Handlers from Tirupur, Erode, Salem, Coimbatore, Tiruchi, Thajavur, Pudukottai, Dindigul, Theni and Madurai district descend on Poolamvalasu for the fights.
Last year and during the current year a few birds and handlers from Kerala were spotted among the contestants.
The duels have been going on for the past few days even as motley groups of people squat around the arena and egg on the roosters to go at each others’ throats. The handlers tempt, cajole and goad the fuming birds into livid action that leaves both roosters in blood.
“We feed, train and rear the roosters all through the year for the Pongal fights. There is no violation of animal right in the training or in the fight as we do not attach knives or sharp objects to the birds’ claws. We have a tradition of rearing fighter roosters and there are many like us who want to continue the tradition,” says trainer K. Subramanian of Periya Kalipalayam in Karur district who has brought two roosters for the duels.
Diet and training are the keys to success at Poolamvalasu where the annihilated birds mostly do not survive. However, these days there is a mad scramble for even the victorious birds and they fetch up to Rs.25,000 a bird, says P. Ravikumar of Chinnadarapuram.
While the vanquished birds that are taken away by the victors fetch Rs.3,000 to Rs.5,000 a bird, the victors enjoy a higher grading. In fact, the dining table is the great leveller as that is where the winning and losing birds end up in a week’s time.
Despite denials, betting does take place around the arenas but the crowds ensure that lawlessness does not prevail in the village to attract the adverse glare of the police.