How difficult is it to understand that animals are being hurt in the name of tradition, religion and public enjoyment?


When it comes to celebrating harvest festivals like Pongal and Makar Sankranti in South India and North India, the public becomes a little primitive. In North India, you have kite flying which poses a threat to birds and humans alike. Every year you have appeals telling the people not to use Chinese manja or the glass-lined threads, yet the practice continues.


As for South India, this time it was quite a tension-filled. Following a Public Interest Litigation, both the Supreme Court and the High Court banned cockfights in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and other places where it is known to be practiced as a sport, seen  as a source of public entertainment and the performing of which brings monetary gain. They categorically directed the respective state governments to take steps to prevent the fights during the harvest festival.


Despite this, you have reports which show how cockfights were held in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. An article in The Hindu reveals: In several villages, the fights were held day and night for the last three days. There was a heavy demand for the meat of the cocks killed in the fight and the person who won the fight sold the meat at ₹1,000 to ₹1,200 per kg.


In West, East Godavari districts and the Krishna districts there were cock fights held in coconut groves and paddy fields and in all these places there was no law present to monitor the event.


In Karnataka there were incidents where people chose to defy the ban on sheep throwing during the Makar Sankranti festival. The practice was banned in 2013, yet people chose to throw sheep onto the palanquin during the annual event of Mailaralingeshwar jatra.


Again in Karnataka there were images in various national media of decorated bulls being forced to run through fire as part of Makar Sankranti festivities.


Another report in The Hindu speaks of how the cattle festival near Kuppam town saw the death of two panicked bulls who died after a railway engine struck them, and a dozen revellers suffering injuries in the ‘Pasuvula Panduga’ or jallikattu. So there was human and animal suffering as well. As per the game rules, the frenzied bulls, which were said to have been subjected to intoxication, were released into the open to be tamed by participants. Even as early as Friday, there were reports from the villages of Madurai, Sivaganga, Nagapattinam, Coimbatore, Salem and Tirupur that Jallikattu was held in secret. 


What do these reports reflect? All of this just highlights how humans will go against all forces to uphold tradition and cultural practices. All these sports involve discomfort to the animals in some way or the other. The roosters die a brutal death being hacked to shreds with blades, the bulls are fed intoxicated substances to make them agitated and frenzied and sheep, the most harmless of them all, are thrown off heights only so that luck comes to the owners and the other celebrants.


No religion has anywhere categorically stated that these animals need to be inconvenienced in this manner. The law has been laid down regarding these events so that no animal or human is hurt, and yet south India chooses to defy these orders. 


Our superstitious beliefs have led us to becoming primitive in our thinking as well. What is lamentable is that we choose to hope for luck after killing, maiming, innocent animals and we call ourselves humans.