Despite ban, the practice is quite in vogue

Sankranthi is round the corner and people in the city are gearing up for the festivities. One of the most auspicious occasions for Hindus, the harvest festival is celebrated in myriad cultural forms with devotion, fervour and gaiety. With Sankranthi comes a string of traditional rituals dutifully carried out by generations over the years.

The sight of ‘gangireddu’, the festooned bull, happy kite-flying kids, elaborate designs of colourful rangoli, the bhogi fire, the bommala koluvu (display of toys) and the gobbammas signal arrival of the most-awaited festival.

Cockfighting is seen as a ‘cool’ sport by some people but it is actually a ‘cruel’ sport. It is originally a blood sport in which roosters are placed in a ring and forced to fight to the death for the ‘amusement’ of onlookers. The activity has also been declared illegal. Heavy betting takes place and people revel in watching the roosters with their neck feathers fanned and wings whirring. The birds jump and parry at each other, kick and duel in mid-air, striking at each other with feet and beak. If the fighting wanes, the trainers pick up the birds, hold them beak-to-beak in an attempt to reignite the frenzy. The birds then are re-pitted and the fighting continues until one of the roosters is dead.

Taking strong exception to the practice, founder president of the Indian Institute of Jeevakarunyam and Research M. Venkateswara Rao, has made a representation to the Collector urging him to initiate steps to stop the cruel sport.

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