As I was on my way home from work yesterday, I stumbled across a group of guys from my office in a huddle. As I approached and asked what they were doing, I discovered that they were in the process of making a hutch for their chickens. This got me to thinking about men and their chickens, and what its really all about.
Chickens play a very important role in Balinese life, they are found in small bamboo cages in the front of every house, and in the late afternoons, you can see men, sitting by the road sides, literally stroking their cocks (cockerels). These creatures are held in high esteem, as they are used for the centuries old tradition of cockfighting. Cock fights, known as Tajen, are performed in religious rituals, in order to offer a sacrifice to the gods, and expel any evil spirits. Cockfighting is always part of every religious ceremony or temple blessing.
Cockfighting in this form, it is a cultural, and religious activity, and completely accepted. However, cockfighting has also spilled over to every day life, and has become a gambling activity, which is illegal. Despite being against the law, makeshift cockfighting rings can be found all over the island. The roosters are primed for at least 6 months, before a fight, being fed the best food, to develop their strength. Men will compare sizes and weights with their friends cocks, and by extension, attempt to prove their own manhood.
Roosters are naturally aggressive toward other males, so do not need much encouragement to fight, and traditionally, they would fight a fair fight to death. These days, razor sharp knives are tied to the birds legs, making the fight very bloody and quick. Bets are placed, of anything between 50,000 to 1,000,000 Rupiah per fight, and the winner takes home the losing bird to eat at the end.
Its a blood sport, and not one that I approve of personally, but I respect the culture, and the religious meaning behind it. Being a woman, I do not need to be part of the action and that suits me fine.