January, 17,2016: The ban on `Jallikattu’ notwithstanding, thousands of people in about half a dozen villages in Chittoor district on Saturday participated in the ‘sporting event’ that involved chasing of bulls and cows through narrow roads in a bid to tame them. ‘Jallikattu’ or ‘Pasuvula Panduga’ (cattle festival) is held on the concluding day of the three-day harvest festival of Sankranti. Jallikattu is quite popular in Tamil Nadu. In Andhra Pradesh, the event is held in a few villages of Chittoor district.
The police, who had earlier warned of severe penal action, however remained silent spectators as hundreds of animals were chased amidst loud shouts by the participants. Supreme Court had banned the event as it involves cruelty to animals and threat to the life of people. But the villagers did not bother to follow the apex court’s orders with the police preferring to turn a blind eye.
Incidentally, Chittoor is the native district of chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu. In fact, Naidu had celebrated Sankranti in his ancestral Naravaripalle village with his family members. His brother-in-law and film actor N Balakrishna, whose flick Dictator was released on Thursday, was also in the village. The organisers of Jallikattu had invited Balakrishna to witness the event and celebrate the success of his movie with them.
Pasuvula Panduga, as the people in Chittoor would like to call Jallikattu, was held amidst much fanfare and traditional gaiety at Ramireddygaripalle, Pullaiahgaripalle, and Rangampet of Chandragiri mandal and Baireddypalle and Adusipalle in Pakala mandal. At least 10 people were injured as the frightened animals ran amuck while youngsters chased them.
The authorities kept medical aid ready and closed down all liquor shops in the mandal. Special medical camps were opened outside the villages to provide first aid to the injured before they are rushed to hospitals. Animal rights activists argue that the animals receive internal injuries leading to their slow death.
The main event was held at Rangampet where people from a number of villages gathered with animals decorated with garlands. A small metal plate is tied to the horns of the animals. The participants chase the animals in a bid to take hold of the metal plate. Whoever tames the animals and secure the metal plate is declared as the winner.
According to reports reaching here, some cattle owners had fed alcohol to the animals. Some even fed the cattle with a paste made of powdered ganja leaves and jiggery in a bid to give a `kick’ to the race. Thousands of people including from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu converged on Chandragiri and Pakala mandals to witness the Jallikattu. Many were seen standing on housetops and elevated places for a clear view of the animal chase.
The enthusiasm was quite visible as the district received a bountiful rainfall, filling up all reservoirs. “God has been kind to us. We received a record rainfall during the northeast monsoon. The animals had toiled in the fields for the two farm seasons. It is time to give them some entertainment and rest,” a villager told the local media when asked to explain the significance of the so-called cattle festival.
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