With Tamil Nadu a step closer to having the ban on bull-taming sport jallikattu revoked, citizens of other states are speaking up in support of practices that were barred but are considered part of tradition.
In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena has reportedly threatened to launch protests to have the ban on bullock cart racing lifted. Maharashtrians hold the same value for bullock cart racing that the people of Tamil Nadu carry for jallikattu, the party said. Sena workers have threatened to take to the streets if the Supreme Court does not allow the sport to be organised in Maharashtra after Parliament’s Budget Session, according to The Financial Times.
Bullock cart races were organised during the Pune Festival, which is part of Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. Its supporters claim that the sport has been organised for more than three centuries as a tradition. The Supreme Court had banned the practice of bullock cart races along with jallikattu in 2014.
Further north, people in Assam are also reportedly speaking up against the ban on bulbul fights. They were organised as part of Bhogali Bihu celebrations that usually coincide with the harvest festivals of Makar Sankranti, Pongal and Lohri.
Bulbul, or nightingale, fights were organised at the Haigriva Madhav temple in Assam’s Hajo township, around 30 km west of Guwahati. These fights have not been organised since the apex court imposed a ban on animal fights. Those who made a living catching and training the birds accused the court of taking away their occupation and also the highlight of the festival, IANS reported.
“What is Bhogali Bihu without the bulbul fights?...For me and others like me, bulbul fights were the most important element of the festival. We had no reason to celebrate it this year,” Krishna Kalita, a 55-year-old who had been catching and training the birds since he was six, told the news agency.