Today is Sankranti. Tomorrow is Eddulu Pandaga, festival of cows.
Only thing, its not...As some families, the Paaturvaalu, had a death in their clan,
they cannot celebrate any festival this month. As their cattle will feel left out if other
cows are worshipped, the village decided to postpone the celebrations
to Thai masam, the next month. This care for cows, all cows, is
very normal in a village.
|Going for Jallikattu, festive wear|
We have lived in Paalaguttapalle (Dalitwada), Chittoor Dt, AP, for 20 years. In mid January Sankranthi, the harvest festival, the main festival in AP, is celebrated. It is followed by Eddulu Pandaga the next day when the cattle are decorated, and worshiped, and fed special fare.
On this day, farmers proudly bring their bulls and run them, and this is called Eddulu Tharamatam, a simpler version of Jallikattu. Some bulls would have prizes tied on their horns. The youth run after the bulls and try to catch them barehanded, and if they manage to get them to stop, they claim the prize. The bigger Jallikattus happen in Rangampeta, Chandragiri and places closer to the Tirumala forests.
The farmers take great care of their cattle. The cattle is their life and livlihood. They do not hurt them, not do they allow them to get hurt. Violations in Jallikattu are rare.
|Crowds waiting for the bulls. All verandas and terraces belong to all today.|
In another village, Rangampeta, 20km away from ours, close to the Tirumala forests, there are many indigenous cattle. The good forests enable maintaining herds of these native cattle. In villages around these forests they have Jallikattus celebrated with more vigour.
Herds of cattle are released into the street and whoever catches them gets the prizes tied to their horns.
Fourteen of us women called an auto, packed into it and came here from Paalaguttapalle. Chandra,'s, Simhadri's and two other motorcycles also pressed into service. Day out for all!
|Fourteen to an auto to Rangampeta|
streets. They were used to it, and were rarely caught.
Waiting for the bulls to be let loose. Packets of lemon rice being distributed by the community
These are the spaces where casteism and patriarchy are upturned. All castes collectively celebrate it. Men and women are both there in the celebrations.
To all those who see villages as primarily 'casteist' and 'patriarchal',
a suggestion that they enter villages - not as observers, but as
humble members of the community.
Naidus and Malas(SC) and Reddys, men and women,
participate shoulder to shoulder.
Food prepared by all in the community, and served to all.
Jallikattu - of all the people, by all the people, for all the people.
Shared festivities, shared identities.
Jallikattu is part of traditional festivities and the people were clear in my discussions with them that it cannot be banned. They agreed that violations sometimes happen and those should be clamped down on.
|The decorated bull has a prize attached to it.|
breeds of bulls, commerce, valour and social relations of a functioning agrarian society.
Village realities and contexts can only be understood by those inside. Village people understand livestock best. They are the ones living with them. They are the stakeholders. They make sensible grounded choices.
|The bulls start running|
The urbans are as ignorant of village realities as the white man was. They also carry the white man's burden of wishing to civilize the natives.
( The media loves giving footage of extreme events and maybe because the public also loves gory stories. To make opinions based on such media accounts is retarded behaviour.)
|The bulls waiting in the next dhodi to be released for the run. The prowd owner will release them down the street.|
Chandra and others have left early in the morning to Jallikattu
in Malaarpalle, Danagammalu, Mattampalle and Gangudupalle.
Another long day of celebration of native breeds of cattle
and of poweress of the farmer and the bulls.
washing loads of clothes, bedsheets and blankets as winter closes,
and unwinding after Bhogi, Sankranti, Jallikattu...