Harvest festivities in Karnataka have been traditionally synonymous with animal races. While these are traditions that have been celebrated over many generations, the cruelty that the animals are subjected to has always been a topic of intense debate.
The age-old tradition of Kicchu Haisuvudu, where farmers get their cows and oxen to jump over a bonfire made of haystacks during Makara Sankranti every year, is one that has often been questioned, given the potential harm it can cause. Now, with two farmers at Siddalingapura village near the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway, suffering burn injuries while carrying out the practice, it has once again exposed the risks involved in the tradition.
Farmers believe that the traditional practice is carried out keeping in view the good health of cows and oxen. The explanation is that the heat generated from the fire kills the germs found on the bodies of the cows and oxen, thereby ensuring that they follow this practice on festive days to keep their animals healthy and fit.
Expressing anguish over the cruelty of animals, Nikunj Sharma, Assistant Director of Policy, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), says, “There can’t be anything more shameful than harming cows in the name of a festival. The trauma and pain cows go through when they are forced to jump over fire is unbearable. PETA India will contact the police and demand that any participants of such events be arrested for causing cruelty to animals.”
A load of bull
PETA India has also criticised the bull races recently held in Bannur, near the Mysuru-Bannur highway. They have stated that photographic evidence and eyewitness reports reveal rampant cruelty to bulls during the bullock cart races held last weekend (January 12 and 13) that were investigated by them. PETA adds that the evidence proves yet again that activities such as bullock cart races, which are permissible under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Second Amendment) Act, 2017, are inherently cruel and that no amount of regulation can prevent such cruelty to bullocks who are used for entertainment.
The report from PETA suggests, “The photos and videos taken during the bullock cart races reveal that scared bullocks were pushed, pulled by nose ropes as their noses bled, and mercilessly struck with wooden sticks, with the whacks audible 200 to 300 meters away. The animals were also beaten with bare hands at the starting point and during the race, and their tails were bitten, pulled, and twisted to force them to run faster.”
PETA India Chief Advocacy Officer Prakash Sasha says, “Despite a clear 2014 Supreme Court ruling that bulls, including buffalos, aren’t anatomically suited to racing and that these events are inherently cruel, racers in the state are whipping bullocks, biting their sensitive tails, and beating them mercilessly in order to force them to run at high speeds on tar roads. PETA India is calling on authorities to have a heart and ban all cruel events involving bulls, including bullock cart races and Kambala.”