By Sharon Thambala
Vempa (Andhra Pradesh), Jan 21 (IANS) At a time when most of the Sankranti visitors have left the festival hotspots, there was a mixed response from the many tourists who visited the cockfight centres in Andhra Pradesh’s West Godavari district recently, with some saying they were happy while a few others felt disappointed.
Despite the high court ban orders, thousands visited the cockfight centres.
Ram Prasad, an IT employee from Hyderabad had been attending the Vempa cockfight centre for three years with a group of friends and he was as amused as ever to have made the trip.
“I have been coming here for the past three years. So it is kind of refreshing for us. We work the entire year and this break is a refreshing one. We visited all the major cockfight centres, not just the Vempa one,” Prasad told IANS.
He said their main intention was to come for entertainment and not gamble. However, Prasad noted that it excites him to see people bet money in the blood sport where cocks kill each other by throwing knives tied to their feet.
“People were not showing expressions, even if they were losing or winning big. We have seen some of them lose Rs 2 lakh or Rs 3 lakh, but we never observed that they lost something because they did not express such. Even in loss they were celebrating,” said the Hyderabadi tourist.
“Even we hesitated to bet more than Rs 1,000 or Rs 2,000. But, here we saw that people were spending like anything,” Prasad said.
However, Prasad and his group of friends who drove down from Hyderabad like many others said they missed other forms of gambling such as gundata (board game). The culture and environment, open spaces and green fields have, however, awed them.
Ram Reddy, another IT employee from Hyderabad came with a group of friends for the first time to the cockfights in Vempa near Bhimavaram.
“I came here for fun, just to see how it will be. First time, I wanted to experience it. I came from the Hitech city in Hyderabad,” said Reddy.
His friend Srinivas enjoyed the experience at Seesali cockfight ring where people were allowed inside, unlike the Vempa one, which did not allow everybody inside and also shut down abruptly after a dispute.
“We really wanted to see those ‘gangireddus’ (decorated bulls), ‘haridasu’ and ‘Bogi’ bonfires were and if they really existed as shown on the television, but somehow I didn’t see them,” said Reddy disappointedly.
Srinivas also said he would love to explore other nearby tourist attractions such as the Dindi resort and a couple of pristine beaches in Perupalem or Peddamainivanilanka.
As a newcomer, Srinivas said he could not understand the intricacies of the cockfights as the punters would call each cock with different colour by a different name which he heard for the first time.
Parla, Dega, Katla, Kaki and others. In fact, there are the books written on how to punt and choose a rooster with many intricate details.
An older man who came along with Reddy and Srinivas admitted that he did not find the experience very exciting.
Reddy said the organisers could have admitted enthusiasts in by charging them an entry fee but lamented that some people were taking advantage of this season and profiteering.
“We booked a room in Bhimavaram where we were charged Rs 5,000 for pretty normal and mediocre facilities. Some people are taking advantage,” he added.
Meanwhile, most of the people who flocked the cockfights and Sankranti celebrations would have returned to Hyderabad and other big cities to resume their normal busy lives as usual.
(Sharon Thambala can be contacted [email protected])