Every week, hundreds of people, but mostly men, gather at the weekly market at the Geedam Bazaar in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh. They come to place bets on their favorite cock.
Cockfighting is prohibited under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and the AP Gaming Act, 1974. Despite police crackdowns, its popularity doesn’t seem to have waned. The weekly haat, or market, in Bastar is incomplete without the traditional blood sport of cockfight. As bloody and upsetting as they are to many animal rights activists, cockfights are considered a distinctive facet of Bastar’s tribal cultural identity.
The makeshift ring is surrounded by huge crowds standing in rows, as two roosters with sharpened two-inch-blades at their feet lunge at each other. The crowd place their bets quickly as fights don’t last longer than five to 10 minutes. There’s a 15 minute breaks between rounds, allowing the victor time to collect his winning and the surviving rooster. As many as 40 to 50 bouts can take place from noon till dusk. As the fights rage on, locals and spectators imbibe mahua and selphi (locally brewed liquor).
The sport isn't just fatal for birds, in 2014, a man believed to be a Special Police Officer was supposedly stabbed by Maoists while attending a cockfight. These photos were taken in Geedam Bazaar, in 2016.
This article originally appeared on VICE India.