Special: Cows feast while bulls run
Chennai: Mattu Pongal is not all about displaying valour in taming the bull or causing hurt to the animal.
It is also an occasion to show love and care to the mute cattle, which not only helps the farmers but also ensures steady supply of milk for human beings.
On the religious realm, it represents wealth or prosperity. Here is an ashram in Chennai, which has been conducting 'go' puja regularly for the last seven decades on Mattu Pongal.
“These mute creatures don't have a voice to fight for a cause, as humans do. And it is gratitude for the invaluable service they render to us that Mattu Pongal is celebrated as an appropriate occasion to shower our love and care on them,” says Paramahamsa Sri Bharadwaj Swamy, pontiff of Sri Yohamaya Bhuvaneswari Peetam, Ambattur, here.
Various animals have been associated with gods and goddess and there has been a tradition on performing 'go' puja for centuries.
“Lord Ram had performed 'go' puja and Lord Krishna was fond of cows. The bull (Nandi) is the mount for Lord Siva and lion is associated with Goddess Durga and peacock, with Lord Subrahmanya. Cow is among the chosen places where Goddess Lakshmi resides,” he says.
Sri Bharadwaj, who performed puja to over 20 cows at his ashram for an hour in the day, claims Mattu Pongal underlines the importance of coexistence and interdependence.
The 'go' puja should be performed during the Tamil month of Thai and the benefits accruing out of this are many. Goddess Lakshmi and cow help to remove poverty by giving health, wealth and comfort, child for childless couples and remove the deadliest of sins, he adds.
The cows at his goshala were offered Pongal without ghee (a by-product of milk). Sri Suktham and Sri Lakshmi Ashtotara Namavali were recited on the occasion.
Spark missing from Pongal festivities in Cauvery delta
C.S. Kotteswaran | DC
Chennai: The usual Pongal fervour in villages of the Cauvery delta districts was missing this year as farmers had low-key celebration, mourning the death of thousands of cows and farm animals caused by the sporadic outbreak of foot and mouth disease recently.
While the state animal husbandry officials estimated that about 30,000 animals died due to the outbreak, members of farmers' federation maintained that more than 1 lakh cattle had died so far.
“We just followed our ancestral rituals and poojas, during this mattu pongal, but there is no celebrations in our village,” said Arupathy Kalyanam, general secretary, federation of delta farmers association.
Several farmers in Erode and Karur had also lost their livestock during the outbreak and it will take at least a year for the farmers to bounce back economically, he said, adding that drought had also hit the farmers badly.
For quite some years, farmers have been complaining about rice blight, a viral disease that affects crop yield.
The high-end variety crops are prone to viral and pathogenic infections and the present climatic change promotes viral infections in crops, explains botany professor, D. Narasimhan of Madras Christian College.
Most of the viral infections spread through air and detailed research on controlling crop infections is the need of the hour, he added.
“Drought and incidence of rice blight have adversely affected farmers in Tiruvarur, Tiruvannamalai and Thanjavur districts and the yield is also relatively low, making Pongal a low-key affair,” said K Neelamegam, a rice merchant of Tiruvannamalai.
The northeast monsoon ended last month with deficit rainfall of 33 per cent in the state.
Next: 41 bull-tamers injured during Madurai jallikattu
41 bull-tamers injured during Madurai jallikattu
Madurai: As many as 41 persons, including 15 spectators and a policeman, were injured in the jallikattu held at Palamedu in Madurai district as part of Pongal festivities on Wednesday. Of those injured, seven were referred to the government Rajaji hospital for further treatment, the police said.
For the first time, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was pressed in to service over the jallikattu venue for surveillance.
The UAV kept vigil since morning to help police prevent any untoward incident.
Of the 543 bulls that were registered, 13 were rejected as they were found to be either sick or unfit.
As many as 16 bulls were sent back due to lack of or misuse of documents. S. Sivakumar, one of the observers representing the Animal Welfare Board of India, said, “Eleven bulls were not permitted as their owners, without registering them, had faked the AWBI seal and the authorisation letter issued by it to other owners.”
Revenue sources said five bulls were denied participation in the sport as the owners had failed to register them with the department of animal husbandry.
“The tokens issued for the animals by the police were found to have been misused. Without registering the bulls, the owners had managed to obtain tokens for a price anywhere between Rs 500-Rs 1,000. Hence, those five bulls were denied permission,” a revenue official said.
While 18 fighters and seven owners suffered injuries, a bull fell into a well at the collection point. The bull, as it ran towards the collection point after escaping from the tamers, slipped into the well which had no parapet. Since the well had water, the animal did not suffer any injury. It was rescued by the fire service personnel.
As many as 38 persons, including 15 spectators and five policemen, suffered injuries at the jallikattu held at Avaniapuram on Tuesday.
Eight injured in Tiruchy bull run
Tiruchy: Eight bull-tamers were injured during the jallikattu event at Periya Sooriyur village in Thiruverumbur union, near here, on Wednesday as part of Pongal celebrations.
There were no casualties, largely due to the Supreme Court having laid down restrictions and safety measures which were strictly enforced by the district administration. They had erected a double-bed barricade and gallery for spectators to prevent them from getting injured.
Of the eight tamers injured, five were admitted to the Annal Gandhi memorial government hospital in Tiruchy, and the three others discharged.
Tiruchy range DIG of police Amalraj inaugurated the jallikattu event, which was held amidst tight security and the direct supervision of top revenue and police officials, including collector Jayashree Muralidharan, revenue divisional officer Basheer and SP Maheswari.
A total of 346 bulls from Tiruchy, Thanjavur, Ariyalur, Salem, Sivagangai and Pudukottai districts and 250 bull-tamers participated in the event.
The bulls were subjected to a medical test by a team of veterinarians, led by joint director of animal husbandry, Dr Chinnadurai.
In 2010, Manivel (48), an onlooker from Sooravalipati, gored to death and 22 others, comprising bull tamers and onlookers, were injured during the event held at Sooriyur. It was not held in 2011 following the ban order and subsequent restrictions laid down by the state government.
“In previous years, a majority of the injured were onlookers more than the bull-tamers as the ferocious bulls charged into the crowd of spectators. This year, such a possibility was averted by erecting the double-bed barricade to keep the onlookers at bay,” said coordinator S. Raja Manikandan.
Jallikattu enthusiasts, however, said the sport had now lost its customary zeal and excitement as there were too many restrictions and conditions laid down by the court. Manikandan, however, pointed out that the safety of participants was more important than excitement.