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Magecel: A Unique Balinese Pastime  

by on Saturday, 11 August 2007One Comment | 4,382 views


Magecel is a unique Balinese pastime which strongly related to cockfighting. Magecel can be defined as an activity of fondling and exercising fighting cock. As any activity in Bali, magecel is done collectively; sometimes four up to a dozen men bring with their fighting cocks sit under the canopy of banyan, other big tree or in the hamlet meeting hall fondling and discussing the merit and demerit of their own fighting cocks, sometimes mock battles without steel spurs are staged to exercise the fighting ability of the cocks.

The most favorite topic of conversation during the magecel is the Pengayam-ayam. Pengayam is knowledge of fighting rooster, the law of cockfighting, in short anything related to the cockfighting. Pengayam is written on sacred palm leaves manuscript. The knowledge of pengayam is unbelievably intricate and detailed. There is a mind-boggling classification of cock by color, shape, configuration, neck ruff, and other characteristics. Certain color of cocks should fight cock of other colors only during specific phases of the moon, on specific days, at specific times of day, from specific direction in the ring, and so on. This is subject of endless discussions during the magecel activity.

The magecel activity gives Balinese men bad stigma of lazy men. The visitors which come to Bali can easily make a conclusion that Balinese women are working busily for the family and while the Balinese men are busy fondling their fighting cocks. This picture is not always true. Nowadays, the magecel activity is usually done late in the afternoon or early in the evening, after the working hours or on the holiday.

The magecel activity can be found easily in the rural area, urban populations in the city rarely enjoy this pastime anymore. The magecel activity is strongly related to the existence of cockfights. After the government banned cockfighting in 1981, the megecel activity decreased slowly in frequency, and quantity of the participant, but the strong resilience of cockfighting and the relatively high frequency of illegal and legal cockfights preserved this pastime.

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