By Sharon Thambala
Vempa (Andhra Pradesh), Jan 14 (IANS) Sankranti cockfights continued unabated across the West Godavari district and several other parts of Andhra Pradesh on Thursday.
Cockfight rings and makeshift tents were pitched across villages such as Yelurupadu, Kallakuru, Kalla, Seesali, Thaderu and Vempa, among others.
Among these places, Vempa, located around 20 km from Bhimavaram, is hosting one of the largest cockfight rings, laying an elaborate white central tent. For the benefit of spectators and punters, organisers in Vempa installed two large LED screens.
Generally many people cannot clearly see the actual cockfights as people sitting or standing before them block their view. Two large cocks made out of thermacol adorned the Vempa ring, located in the midst of lush paddy fields. The venue resembled nothing less than a fair, with a good number of stalls selling biryani, fried chicken and other delicacies. Enthusiasts arrived in large number of cars and two wheelers, some from as far away as Hyderabad.
Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader and former Denduluru MLA, Chintamaneni Prabhakar, created a scene in Vempa. Midway through a cockfight, Prabhakar entered into some disagreement with the organisers/opponent and and walked out in a huff.
One of the organisers also warned the spectators to be careful with their valuables, saying that they caught two thieves earlier during the day.
However, after Prabakhar’s exit, the duels ended, though some people were expecting them to resume later as arrangements have been made to last till late into the night.
“We have come all the way from Hyderabad but the cockfights ended here in Vempa, which is little disappointing,” Ram Reddy, a spectator, told IANS.
Considerable amount of money is spent on making the chosen roosters battle ready, including making them swim for months together.
Meanwhile, all police warnings and announcements against cockfights proved to be an eyewash as usual. There was no presence of police even remotely.
In Kalla village, cockfights were being organised just a stone’s throw away from the local police station. At many cockfight venues, liquor was consumed openly.
Though many states across the country are dealing with bird flu, witnessing a large number of birds dying, Sankranti celebrants in the southern state didn’t seem to be worried as they continued to engage in cockfights.
By Sharon Thambala