How Cockfighting Survive
Cockfighting with wagering in it was banned by government in accordance with eradicating gambling policy in 1981, but cockfighting in Bali showed its strong resilience and survived the test. In 2003 cockfighting was put into greater test, Made Mangku Pastika was appointed as Bali chief police and he waged a war against all kind of gambling especially cockfighting. Some gamblers who make a living in cockfighting arena told me that the reign of Mangku Pastika was the time of hardship but as quoting words of Tupac: Bali chief police come and go but cockfighting stays in time. Once again cockfighting survives and the bitter experiences contribute a great deal to the face of cockfighting nowadays.
What lies behind the strong resilience of cockfighting against all odds is not something that can be achieved in a day or two, it is a result of a custom that have been practiced for hundreds of years, part of Balinese culture that Balinese have been lived with over centuries. Cockfighting has interwoven deeply in socio-religious life of the Balinese, there is a three-round cockfight known as tabuh rah in most of temple anniversary or in a big ceremony that can be transformed easily into a cockfight for gambling purpose after the ceremonial three-round fight is over, the additional fights may run up to ten rounds; sometimes the gamblers wagering in the ceremonial three-round fight on a pretext to enliven the fight. By adopting this religious context in staging a cockfight the gamblers can satisfy their need of wagering at the very least they can wage in the ceremonial-three- round match.
Believe it or not, apart from using religious ritual as the stone wall against the police squad, cockfighting for gambling purpose (tajen) sometimes also enjoy divine protection from the deities that reside in the temple where the cockfight is staged. Some temples in Bali are well known for staging tajen for 7 until 42 days. This kind tajen is known as tajen terang (clear tajen) refers to the permission given by the police to stage the tajen. As a matter of fact the police have but allowing the temple congregation to stage the tajen since they cannot touch this kind of tajen. The tajen that is stage in a temple is protected by the deities of the temple where the tajen is held. The deities of some temples in Bali are fond of tajen, pestilence and misfortune will fall on the congregations of these temples if the tajen is not held. Of course there were many police officers who tried to stop this tajen but after they stopped this tajen, they usually got an accident or paralyzed by mysterious illness. They can only be saved or healed after asking forgiveness to the deity in the temple where the stopped tajen is held. Sometimes the punishment from the enraged deities cost the lives of the officers.
Nowadays this deity-protected tajen has been used as a way to raise some fund for the temple. The temple congregation usually charged the gamblers who enter the cockfight arena around Rp. 5.000 ($ 0.5) and after each round a small percentage of the bet is siphoned from the central bet as a donation to the temple. Through the years the-all-free tajen has changed into a ticketed-game, a price that have to be paid for a rare game, well at least this is the most significant effect of the 1981 ban to the tajen.