“An ordinance is needed from Central Government revoking ban on Jallikattu,” cried out a tamely-looking man sitting in the glittering newsroom of a jarring news television channel. He looked like a religious fanatic; and his eyes were aggressive and full of hatred to the opposite view points. But the intention was simple – to provoke the situation and bring a confrontation of executive and judiciary in India. This is when the Central government is still reeling from the embarrassment thrown by the apex court last year declaring National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act unconstitutional.
“It always saddens me when people of India make all effort to belittle our own culture,” a friend of mine shared. “The Jallikattu event is not new. It is about celebrating gallantry since ancient times. It depicts an elaborate process on the eve of Pongal, an annual four-day festival in south India and Sri Lanka – a hallmark of ancient Tamil culture. The game of engaging bull is not singular, but is celebrated elsewhere in the world in different forms. It can be ‘running the bulls’ in Spain or in its erstwhile dominions. It can be ‘bull-leaping’ that was a characteristic Eurasian tradition since ages. And it troubles my mind when we equate such a rich event with just cruelty against animal.”
To make the dialogue comprehensive, I intervened. “There are reports that the event is exploited to torture bulls. The bulls participating in the game sustain injury through sticks and knives. Sometimes alcohol is used to make the bull more aggressive.”
“Every event has dark side too. Some people will always try to exploit the situation.”
Then she took a pause, and continued, “Even popular sports like cricket are being exploited. Shall we then ban these games?”
“Not really, the sanctity of tradition and sports spirit should be honoured. At the same time, the animal must be protected from torture.”
“Why not? In fact, Jallikattu demands that bull is revered. The calf is brought up with great care and is nourished.”
It was not a point which I can disagree to. I was rather uncomfortable with so much attention to our tradition from a wrong perspective. The court of law may rather incorporate guidelines to protect victims, but may not be right to abolish a rich tradition. Of course, political parties and governments should not also engage in unnecessary intervention into our religious traditions. Also, we must discourage the religious fanatics who self-proclaim to be the representative of religion; and expose the dark side of discourse. Only rational people are an asset to a religion and to its future glory.