Thursday, August 5, 2010

Catalonia blows the bugle - bans Bull fighting

In one of my earlier posts, I had written about Jallikattu (Aeru thazhuvuthal) a bull taming sport in Tamilnadu and about the Government Gazette notification on the regulations for conduct of Jallikattu. Whether it is a sport and whether the ban imposed by Court needs to be implemented – the debate would rage on and would require a stern administrator for enforcing the decision.


I had linked that to the San Fermin or Pamplona bull running held on 6th July every year. In Spain, bull fighting is a popular sport, conducted in an arena where the bull enters the ring and fought b Matador and Picadores.


There is common misconception here and elsewhere that red colour angers the bull – remember Padayappa when bull charges at Ramya Krishnan and is stopped by the lance thrown on the ground by the superstar Rajnikant. Matadors also use red colour.


There is news now that Lawmakers in Catalonia have outlawed bullfighting, making it Spain’s first region to ban the ballet between man and beast. This is path breaking as for the Spanish aficionados, bull fighting is an art and a great passionate one at that. Catalonia is a powerful, wealthy area with its own language and culture and a large degree of self-rule. Catalonia is one of the 17 autonomous communities of the Kingdom of Spain, having an area of 32,114 km²; bordering France. The official languages here are Spanish, Catalan and Aranese.


In what is described as a historic step (68 votes for and 55 against) the Catalan parliament approved a measure that makes bullfighting illegal in that region. Yes a decision again century old practice called sport or art or savagery, depending on one’s perspective is bound to be hotly debated upon.


Spain is so much known for bull fighting – a famous breed is Toro Bravo, an Iberian cattle breed. Fighting bulls are primarily selected to have combination of aggression, energy, strength and intelligence – states the document. But it would appear that the bull would only crudely been an angry demon charging to get killed by a combination of people and things.

The taming of a bull or subduing it can be termed as a sporting ritual. They say that the bull fighter is at risk of being gored or trampled. But whether a combination of moves by a group of people resulting in killing of the animal be called a sport is subject of debate. Just like our jallikattu, in Portugal the tradition is for the men to grab and hold the bull by its horns !

In Spanish style, 3 matadors fight two bulls which weigh not less than 500 kgs. They have group of assistants – picadores (lancers) mounted on horseback, flagment who also fight. Their costumes are impressive. The bull enters the ring fiercely, picadors armed with lance stabs the muscle of the bull’s neck, weakening it. Then the bull is attacked with sharp barbed sticks. In the final stage, Matador enters the ring alone with a small red cape and a sword.     The bull goes down killed. It is brutally stabbed between the shoulder blades and through the aorta. The matador gets reward of ear, tail etc., for his bravery.

Spain even cloned a fighting bull and named it Got who weighed close to 25 kgs at birth. The cost of making it was Euro 28000(more than INR 17 lakhs). This cloning birth occurred in May 2010 from fighting bull named Vasito and is expected to display the fighting qualities of its father. It is described as the fight of the scientists to preserve valuable bull genes.


The matador may or may not tame the bull by its horns but the Catalonian law makers perhaps have. It brought cheers after the Speaker announced the ban in the legislature.


It may not bring a great relief to the bull as Catalonia reportedly has only one functioning bull ring in Barcelona, had been staging 15 fights a year, which are rarely sold out. In comparison there reportedly are roughtly 1000 bouts per season.


In someways, it is an extraordinary enactment raising above politics of identifying this as a national identity and not seeing it as a suffering of the animal; there has always been a view point that when social customs evolve such brutalities will end on their own.




Regards – Sampathkumar S

2 comments:

  1. your topics are so varied and have a great specturm. A follower of jallikattu, enjoyed this article - Arvind

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