The significance of Independence from British Rule 64 years on means little to most people as 90% of those alive today were born post Independence. So if I were to ask the crowd that gathered for a ‘Feast of Cockfighting’ today it was merely a great day to meet friends and fellow gamblers for a day where ‘game cocks’ from all over the country, about 200, were brought to a place near Homagama. Millions in cash were wagered from young boys to older businessmen, a spectator crowd of about 500, where in the cock pit two cocks are wagered on to win the fight. This is a place where even a parking fee is charged for vehicles, such is the demand to park close to the action, and girls are only visible in that they are used to note name of the wagered and the amount so that the cash can be settled upon each result at the conclusion of each fight.
There is no police in sight for this illegal activity that is under the radar, as many are OIC’s of various police stations here to wager some of the takings from their for want of a better word, ‘bribes’ to prevent fines or prosecutions. It is a great place to wager ill gotten gains as there is little to lose when unearned income is wagered. I have noted before how popular this sport is amongst ordinary people in this country, and I believe it is one indulged in by average people all over the world. I put it down to it being transparent! In that it is clear how the money that is wagered is shared between the winners and the owners of the game bird, with little for overheads unlike in other gaming halls or dens or even casinos, where poor people feel they are fleeced.
It is welcoming to note that in Sri Lanka cockfighting does not involve people attaching sharp razors to the feet of the cocks to sheer off the parts of the opponents. That is common in other cock fighting countries. As I have noted before it is a common sport amongst young boys in the country to raise a game cock and take it to a show like this to have it fight. I understand that if the cock runs away from a fight, it will never be able to fight again. So in the event an owner feels his cock will lose he has a right to raise it out of the cockpit before it runs away, and then it is considered a loss. In order that these are not fixed, it has to be apparent that the cock is about to lose, get killed or run away before the owner of the loser is allowed to save it from a worse fate!
While this goes on, the President is watches the parade in Anuradhapura, with most of his cabinet, ministers and his MP’s, senior military personnel, as well as many senior government servants, and many of the citizens who are not going about their daily activity are watching the tamasha on TV for want of better entertainment.