Cockfights cancelled due to Covid, roosters take train to Andhra

Express News Service

KARUR: Grounded by the pandemic in Tamil Nadu, roosters bred for cockfighting in Karur’s Poolamvalasu took wing for Andhra Pradesh — in carton boxes on trains.  “About 10 of them were sent by parcel service on trains from Chennai to jockeys in Andhra Pradesh. More than 50 roosters have been sent to various States this week,” said Mani, a breeder in Karur, told TNIE on Thursday.

“Just like camels store water in their humps and survive for several days without food, these roosters too can survive two or three days without food. We feed the birds and give them water before packing them in cartons/corrugated boxes.

We make holes in these boxes for the birds to breathe. The roosters are sent through railway parcel service in ‘L (luggage) — 25 per cent’ category in which animals/birds are weighed and transported,” another breeder said. Farmers in several villages of Karur, including K Paramathi, Thennilai, Aravakurichi, Pallapatti, Chinnadharapuram, and Manalmedu are involved in poultry farming. 

‘Training roosters for fights is an art’

Breeding country roosters is one of the predominant occupations of the region. While some farmers sell their roosters, others use them for cockfight. After the jallikattu, Karur’s Poolamvalasu sevalkattu or cockfight is arguably the most famous tournament held during Pongal.

It is conducted over four to five days at Poolamvalasu, a remote village in Aravakurichi panchayat union, and draws contestants from AP, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, and Maharashtra. Explaining how “training a rooster for a cockfight is an art”, Siva, a jockey from Aravakurichi, said,

“We choose a specific fledgling and raise it with special care. Poolamvalasu Sevalkattu had been banned after two spectators died while watching an illegal ‘kathikattu’ (cockfight with a blade attached to the bird’s leg) several years ago.

The ban was lifted in 2019 after the tournament’s organisers promised to refrain from tying blades to the birds’ legs. After being conducted successfully for three years, the tournament was suspended by the district administration this year due to the spread of Covid-19.


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