Makar Sankranti, much like Bakr-Id, is a day of cruel animal slaughter throughout India

Some months ago I saw a film which showed a loving, law abiding, white community that was allowed, by law, to go mad one day of the year and shoot any black they could. The film was about a family that rescued a black and how they were hunted down by their friendly neighbours and killed.

We have two days like that in India. One is Bakr Id, when the people of the Muslim community get a free pass to kill goats by law (or any other animal they want) while the government and the police look the other way. They kill lakhs of young goats by slitting their throats. But they also kill cows in West Bengal and Kerala, and camels and young buffaloes illegally in Hyderabad, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Meerut. There are strict laws on where the goats can be killed, but no one bothers. The sewers, in every Muslim ghetto, runs with blood which flows into the rivers. There are certain areas in each city where the smell of rotting blood and meat can actually make you sick.

Hindus consistently object to this brutal and unnecessary slaughter that has no real roots in Islam. Every year there is a debate on this and the television anchors bring in the same people to argue the pros and cons of Bakr Id, and it always turns into a Hindu-Muslim issue.

But Hindus have their own day of massacre as well. The day of harvest, which ushers in the spring and is celebrated all over the country with song and dance, is also a day of violence and killing. Makar Sankranti, 14 January, is the Bakr Id of Hindus.

 Makar Sankranti, much like Bakr-Id, is a day of cruel animal slaughter throughout India

Representational image. AFP

In Karnataka, till the animal activists stopped it, there used to be a ritual in which foxes were hunted, imprisoned, beaten and burnt alive. Now that has been replaced by Kambala, where cows are whipped and made to race through flowing water. Many of these animals die due to broken limbs which are too weak to withstand the force of the water and some die due to the intense beatings.

In Assam, thousands of bulbuls, which are small, fragile endangered species of birds, are caught by professional bird catchers weeks before and then sold to villagers, who keep the birds in cages and then make them fight with each other till one dies. Spaces are allocated for these fights like Roman arenas. This has been banned by court as well.

In Andhra Pradesh, lakhs of cocks are kept in dark cages and poked with long sticks till they become vicious. Then razors are tied to their legs and they are set on each other, slashing and cutting till one dies of blood loss immediately and the other wounded warrior a few hours later. Then they are eaten by grinning villagers who have bought the alcohol being sold in the fight fields. This has just been banned by the Andhra Pradesh High Court and upheld by the Supreme Court. Since many politicians are involved in these filthy fights, let us see what happens this year.

In Goa there used to be bullfights. Two bulls would be fed alcohol and then made to fight each other, by hitting each other’s heads, while drunken spectators shouted and threw things at the animals to egg them on and get a better show of more blood. It was stopped by the Courts over twenty years ago. Every now and then some politician will encourage it secretly, and every political party puts it on their Goa manifesto during elections, but it is, more or less, over.

Madhya Pradesh, however, continues this ghastly illegal fighting and the newspapers carry pictures of the illegal event, which is made even more exciting when a human is killed.

Maharashtra has village races, in which bullocks and buffaloes are made to run tied to each other. Sometimes a cow and a horse are tied. They are fed alcohol and they have iron thorns inserted into their anuses. They are steered by their tails which break in the first few minutes. They are whipped mercilessly again and again. Many die or are maimed permanently. This also has been stopped by law, but some politicians defy the law and hold this vulgar, cruel sport because they think it makes them popular. This is mainly done in the districts around Pune.

In Gujarat, you have the kite flying festival which goes on for a week starting on this day. It kills over three lakh birds who become entangled in the nylon strings embedded with glass. I believe that the joy of flying a kite is far less for the people flying it than the joy of seeing dying birds fall from the sky. The court has banned the Chinese manja, as it is called. It continues to be used.

Then you have Jallikattu. Bulls are confined for weeks in dark rooms, fed alcohol, beaten. Chunks of flesh are literally bitten off by crazed young boys. Then they are let free into an area and dozens of alcohol fuelled boys jump on each one and try to tear its horns off. Bulls die. Some people die. So many politicians from all the parties have jumped into this cesspool of violence in the name of “Tamil Culture”, but actually mistakenly believing that they will make a political space for themselves by encouraging this viciousness. The Supreme Court banned it last year and the ban continues. Calls have been made by local politicians for the government to issue a notification overruling all laws. Everyone in India looks down upon it – as civilized people should. But that has not deterred even fading Tamil actors, who want popularity, from insisting that Tamil Nadu’s entire culture will be destroyed if these bulls are not pounded to death.

The only difference between Bakr Id and Makara Sankranti is that the Muslims don’t bet while they maim and kill animals. The Hindus do. They drink and they gamble on how which animal dies faster. No Hindu pretends that it has a basis in religion. They simply call it Hindu culture, even though some of these massacres have only started a few decades ago.

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Updated Date: Jan 16, 2017 19:00:14 IST