its 1981 ban, cock-fighting (Tajen) is very much alive in
Indonesia. On Bali, it is an integral part of religious
ceremonies - blood spilled during the fight is thought to placate
the ambivalent spirits: Bhuta and Kala.
Balinese men take pride
in grooming and training the roosters until they reach 6-12 months
and are ready to fight. It includes trimming the wattles which makes
them sleeker when it counts.
The cockfights, judged by
juru dalam - an esteemed local dignitary, take place in a wentilan,
an arena usually not far from the village
temple. Just before the fight, the opponents
have razor-sharp spurs (taji) affixed by twine to one of
their legs. An event consists of some 10 fights, each lasting
for up to 5, few-minute-long rounds. Cocks that refuse to spar
are forced under a large, bottomless basket to bring them closer and prevent escape.
There are two circles of
betting: the official one with bets in the range of 20 to 300
thousand rupiahs where the winner doubles the money remitting 10% to
the organizer/temple, and one-to-one betting
with negotiable wagers and odds. As the fight
commences, the frenzied audience call the expected winner by the colour
of its plumage and show the amount they wish to bet on it using
fingers. Bets, called in defunct Dutch ringgits (but paid in
rupiahs), are settled in cash
quickly after the match and with no arguments.
The fights are
mercifully quick, typically ending in the decease of one or both
animals from injuries.
The owner of the winning cock gets the
body of the loser.