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Rooster duels mark Pongal festivities

L. Renganathan

Birds from Coimbatore, Karur, Theni, Madurai participate



Fierce contest:A rooster fight underway at Poolamvalasu in Karur district on Sunday.

ARAVAKURICHI: Pongal is greeted in these villages around Poolamvalasu in Karur district with preparations for a unique activity. Roosters are reared to fight and Pongal is the occasion when they jump into the fray for a clash of claws in the fight to finish. The victorious bird covers itself with glory while the vanquished covets a gory end. Defeat for the men and their birds are next only to death-in some cases death itself.

Training involves rustic practices but are all undertaken with a passionate zeal. Sevalkattu is as famous in Karur district as Jallikattu . The potential danger to participants make rooster fight and jallikattu tough events to organise. Even though the police were reluctant to allow rooster fights in Poolamvalasu due to allegations of betting, the courts have given permission to continue with the event under strict supervision of officials. Enthusiasts throng the various duel arenas in and around Poolamvalasu during the festival, as thousands of roosters vie with one another to corner glory for them and their owners. Roosters in red, tan, black and white reared especially to fight are brought from Karur, Coimbatore, Dindigul, Theni, Madurai, Tiruchi, Salem, Erode, Thanjavur, Tirupur, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts while over the past couple of years some roosters from Kerala have also participated.

The duel, lasting for five days, would be encouraged by small groups of people seen either squatting or standing around. “Rearing a rooster requires a lot of training and discipline,” observes K. Ravikumaran of Puliyampatti, who sends his rooster regularly for the Poolamvalasu sevalkattu.

“Proper feeding might see your bird through, else it would end up being mauled by the opponent bird,” he says.

“Diet and training are important for readying the rooster for fight. The food has to give the bird stamina and strength to overcome its rival,” says S. Chinnasamy of Poolamvalasu.

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