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There’s nothing like watching a couple roosters kill each other before eating a nice, healthy meal of grilled chicken. Especially while knowing that only a few yards away, there is still a cockfight going on.
While living in Bali, roosters have become the bane of my existence. It’s impossible to sleep in, with about eight of them crowing in my home-stay family’s yard at the crack of dawn. Five of them are kept in separate bamboo cages, and on several occasions, I’ve thought about liberating them, in hopes they would fly off, far, far away and give me the chance of sleeping in at least once.
Sadly, I know if I were to do this, my home-stay father would probably never speak to me again. This is because for the men in Bali, raising their roosters are their passions, and they’ve paid good money for a strong rooster and their food, usually a mix of rice, corn and beans. Men will sit on street corners and at local warungs (small shops that sell food and act as local hang-outs) with roosters in hand, cradling them and showing off their strength to other rooster lovers.
Eventually, these roosters will end up in the middle of a fighting arena, with thousands of men surrounding them, cheering them on to destroy their opponents.
Traditionally, cockfights in Bali had a religious purpose. The blood spilled was used to pacify spirits and no temple ceremony was complete without the cockfight.
Now, cockfights also used for entertaining up to 6,000 men as they wave around money, calling out their bets and trying to earn a few extra dollars. Three-inch-long knives are tied to the roosters’ talons, and two at a time, the roosters fly at each other as soon as they’re released. Within a matter of seconds, one or both of the roosters are staggering before dropping dead. This goes on all day.
It’s enough to make all the environmentally friendly, vegetarian, pet-loving Boulderites want to buy a ticket to Bali and hold up signs in protest.
However, as gory as the events can be, they’re very good for the local economy. Local food and drink vendors take the opportunity to sell their wares for twice as much as they usually are able to. On the outside of the arena, men (and again, I say men, because the only women there are selling food and drinks, never watching) take time during breaks to buy clothing and other household necessities.
Most importantly, the local banjars, or communities, charge an entry fee to the cockfights. Each man is charged 10.000 rupiah to enter, and the millions of rupiah raised goes back into the community. The money goes into building projects or toward temple ceremonies.
One part of me wants to be horrified at the idea of strapping knives to a fowl’s legs before setting them loose on each other, but the other part of me realizes how important these gatherings are for the community.
One thing I am sure of though is that it’s going to be strange to get a full night’s sleep when I’m back in Boulder. Maybe I’ll find an alarm clock that sounds like a rooster so I can feel like I’ve brought part of Bali with me.
Contact CU Independent Contributor Stephanie Davis at Stephanie.email@example.com.