The three-day annual rooster fight started at Poolamvalasu near Aravakurichi on Wednesday as part of the Pongal festivities, in compliance with COVID-19 safety norms.
Though the continuous rain dampened the spirit of the event, a large number of trained roosters from different parts of the State, including Erode, Coimbatore, Dindigul, Tirunelveli, Madurai and Tiruppur, were let into the arena. Roosters were also brought from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana.
Special arrangements were made for the roosters to fight in the barricaded open-top boxes. A total of 25 boxes were placed for conducting the fights simultaneously. The owners of the roosters were let into the arena only after a thorough check. A team of veterinarians from the Department of Animal Husbandry were also deployed.
According to a rough estimate, more than 2,000 roosters participated on the first day. While most fights ended in five to ten minutes, the birds that had high stamina and endurance fought beyond 15 minutes.
As per the rules, knives should not be tied to the legs of the roosters. However, a section of the participants flouted the rules at will. Several roosters were let into the arena with knives tied to their legs. Rooster jockeys, who were facilitating the fight, had to prevent the birds from flying out of the arena. Some roosters fought outside the arena too.
“We strictly enforce all rules. Violators were sent out. The participants were allowed only after a thorough check,” said R. Natarajan, one of the organisers.
He said safety precautions had been in force to prevent the birds from flying out of the boxes. Ambulances and medical teams had been stationed at the venue. Since the rooster owners had come from far-off places, physical distancing norms were strictly enforced, he said. At least 5,000 roosters would be brought on Thursday. The rooster owners, who entered into fights elsewhere without permission, would be handed over to the police, Mr. Natarajan said.
The sport was banned in 2014 after two bystanders died of injuries caused by a knife tied to the legs of the roosters. It resumed in 2019 following the intervention of the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court.