KOLI ANKA (Cock Fights)

 

Koli anka (kOLi anka) (Cock fights) (ಕೋಳಿ ಅಂಕ) is a popular pastime in coastal Karnataka and its neighboring regions, even though it is a world wide phenomenon. This is one of the distinctive features of Tulu culture. This has been practiced from ancient times. Both the oral tradition as well as the written texts contains references to cock fights. Two cocks, with sharp knives tied to their feet are made to engage themselves in a fatal combat. It is both a re creative activity as also an opportunity for gambling by betting on the winning cock. Many aspects of this activity have developed in a scientific craft over a period of time dating back to centuries.

The fighting cocks are classified in to various categories based on their colour and shape. Even the crowns on their heads are designated by different names. boLLe, karboLLe, kempe, manjale are some of them. Big and valiant ‘Fighter Cocks’ are imported from far off places such as Salem, Hyderabad and Cochin.

The knives (bALu) are about one and a half to four inches long and quarter of an inch wide. They are thick at the centre and sharpened at both sides. These are classified according to the shape of the pointed end. The two major categories of these knives are ‘baDekkAyi bAL’. (Northern variety) and ‘teNkkayi bAL’ (Southern variety). The knives are tied to the little finger of the right foot and the right knee with the help of a thread.

‘kaLa’ is the arena where the fights take place. Cocks are matched with one another, paying close attention to their size, height and colour. In some regions, the cocks are masked in a piece of cloth till the fight commences. Usually the fights commence in the afternoon and go on well in to the night.

The cocks are held in close proximity to one another by experts. They peck at one another. They are put down and the fight commences. It lasts till one of them is fatally injured. Injuries are medicated on the spot. Open wounds are sewn-up. Cocks are revitalized by glucose and sugar-water. A cock that flees the arena or dies of its injuries is deemed to be defeated. Its carcass is given to the owner of the victorious cock. Dead cocks are exchanged if both of them succumb to the injuries. In that contingency the fight is deemed to be drawn.

In ‘sAlu kOLi’, all the cocks are divided in to two groups and fifty to hundred pairs are made to fight to simultaneously.

For gambling purposes, the cocks are divided in to groups of two or three. The victorious one has to defeat the other two. The amount involved in bets in a single fight is in the range of Rs. 1000 to Rs 50,000. These are bet on each cock. Winnings are distributed among the successful betters. Winning cocks are given handsome prizes.

Usually, Cock-fights are organised after or before the annual festival of the village deity. These are called ‘jAtreya anka’. They are held continuously for a period ranging from one day to a week. Regular fights are held in places called ‘kuDi kaLa’ on an appointed day every week. This is also called ‘nitya anka’. The fights between two clans or individuals are known as ‘savAlina anka’. These develop in to rivalries between the clans and ego clashes are very frequent. There are almanacs delineating the intricacies of these cock fights. (kukkuTa panchAnga)

Tumbe, kankanADi, muDipu, suLLiya and hebri in South Canara, ambalaDka and kATukukke in the neighbouring Kerala states are well known for their cock fights. There is a lot of violence and bloodshed involved in this activity and it bears ample testimony to the sadistic instincts of human beings.     

 

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