Sankranti festival has a unique significance in Andhra culture and tradition. During the week –long celebration of the harvest festival, cock-fights are a great visual attraction besides being representative of traditional sports and entertainment. Cock-fights have a continuous tradition for centuries. Even during the Mughal rule and the British administration in India, this continuity was not broken. But today, what was once a very popular sport, particularly for the farmers, has slowly turned it’s focus purely into gambling, thereby attracting the government’s attention to regulate it.
At the ground-level, what was once a pure, simple entertainment has changed its colour, with betting running into thousands of crores of rupees. If this trend does not change, there is a danger of the sport itself being firmly banned in the state. The ordinary people, however, who still view cock-fight as a sport, want it to continue.
There is also a line of thinking among animal rights activists that cock-fights are cruelty to animals. But, the people disagree with this and say that when millions of these birds are being butchered for consumption, the argument that the sport is cruelty to animals is far- fetched and unreasonable. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that this simple sport of the rustic people does not turn into an act of gambling. Needless to say that it will be unwise to ban the cock-fights entirely on the premise that it involves gambling.
Suphani Kanth Reddy