There was a throng of men cheering on at the temple, and I was curious. More men were hurrying up the stairs, carrying what looked like shopper baskets. Pushing past the elbows I ended up in the front row – of a cockfight. Two beautiful roosters were almost ready to fight – or rather, their owners considered them ready. As a last step, the poor birds were irritated until the verge of aggression by making their beaks touch and fluffing up their neck feathers. Let down on the dirt floor they will only see one another as an enemy to kill, and fight with metal hooks on their legs until death. The losing human owner loses his pride and losing betters sometimes even lose their farm. And one bird loses its life. Every time.
Cockfights are not really allowed on Bali and gambling not at all, but each temple is obligated to host one fight per year to appease the gods. Whatever happens after the first blood is shed is superfluous culture. The gods will not care one way or the other. And so, it is not really the cockerels that fight; it is the human (male?) ego. According to anthropology theory cockfights are a way to channel the ancient Balinese tribal warrior spirit in a less violent way in this modern world. Unfortunately, channeling the warrior spirit does not bode well for the poor roosters.
As I saw one more bird bleed to death on the dirt floor after a fight lasting perhaps a dozen seconds, I could not help but wonder: if according to Hindu belief any unnecessary death or violence increases a person’s karma, and the only way to find bliss is to shed all karma, what does such endless bloodspilling on a sacred temple floor cause?