Ever since the government put restrictions on parading elephants and fireworks display at festivals, there were minor protests and discontent among festival enthusiasts. But after the success of Jallikkattu agitation in Tamil Nadu, the festival fans in Kerala have started vigorously voicing their protests, especially in Thrissur, which can be called the festival capital of Kerala with numerous grand temple festivals taking place every summer. 

 

A few days back the Festival Coordination Committee, a platform of various festival committees, took out a protest march to district collectorate. Now, the committee has called for a district hartal on Thursday to protest the restrictions imposed on fireworks display at festivals. The BJP and Congress have extended support to the hartal. 

 

If the government failed to take a favourable decision, the committee is planning to intensify agitation with indefinite hunger strikes in front of the houses of ministers from the district, the office bearers of the committee warned. It alleged that some 'vested interests' were playing behind the scenes to destroy traditional festivals. The restrictions would hamper the conduct of internationally famous festivals including Thrissur Pooram and Arattupuzha Temple festival in which more than a hundred elephants, representing deities of various temples in the district, would assemble, the organisation pointed out. 

 

The government put restrictions on parading elephants for festivals to mitigate the pressure on the wild animal following court verdicts and directions from National Animal Welfare Board, making it practically difficult for the festival organisers to comply with.  Taking the cue from the Jallikattu protests, the festival enthusiasts are now moving ahead with their plan to oppose the restrictions.   

 

It may be recalled that stringent safety norms were made mandatory in conducting fireworks display after a fireworks display competition at Puttingal Temple in Kollam went terribly wrong, killing over 100 people last year.