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Thursday, March 1, 2018

Spain and Western gory face ~ Toro Jubilo - bull burning festival

There are sports and there are some involving animals – some which men call sport – but end up torturing animals.  There are many misconceptions just as the belief 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.   Down south in Tamilnadu, there is one which finds its place in Sangam literature and considered a game of honour.  Jallikattu  (Aeru thazhuvuthal) is a bull taming sport played in Tamilnadu as part of Tamilnadu celebration.  Unlike its western cousin, the bull is seldom killed and here the matadors do not use any weapons.  It is also known as manju virattu – chasing the bull.

In this game (!) an agitated bull is set to run in an open space, where several youth, empty handed try to tame it by controlling its horns.  The winner gets a booty, becomes darling of the crowd.  The most famous ones are held in and around Madurai at Alanganallur, Avaniapuram, Palemedu, Thammampatti in Salem, Ponnamaravathi in Pudukottai,  Pallavarayanpatti near Theni to name a few.  In 2007, for the first time, both the bulls and the matadors of the famed Alanganallur Jallikattu were subjected to breathalyser test to ensure that they had not consumed alcohol.  Is it daredevilry ? a game ? or torturing bulls or losing men trying to prove their valour ? what happens to those who get killed ? and lose their limbs / senses ?  - answers depend on perception.  Animal lovers went to Court seeking ban and a Bench considered it barbaric involving cruelty of animals; Govt pleaded it a sport and now there are restrictions in place.

On 6th July every year rocket is set off in the morning to alert the runners that corral gate is open.  With the next one, six bulls and six steers are released.  If you are still debating jallikattu, the venue is different.  That is miles away in Spain and the event is the festival of  San Fermin, or the Pamplona bull running.   Thousands of people congregate in the square.  They claim its origin to 13th century.  The Running of bulls is a practice that involves running in front of six bulls let loose on a course of sectioned-off subset of a town’s streets.  This reportedly is held in many villages across Spain, Portugal and some in Mexico and France as well.   The sad part is that these bulls which are transported from their offsite corrals would get killed in the evening in a show of bravado. 

There is another gory game : Spanish bull fighting, a popular sport (!!) conducted in an arena where the bull enters the ring, then an assistance waves a bright yellow and magenta cape infront to anger it,  the top fighter called Matador and fighters Picadores weaken the bull by piercing spears.  The matador has a sword called espada; the bull eventually drops dead.  There could be rules and variations, which we may not understand much.

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 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.   Recently, Lawmakers in Catalonia have outlawed bullfighting, making it Spain’s first region to ban the ballet between man and beast. 

Recently read in Daily Mail about Toro Jubilo festival” – it has gory details of Spanish bull-burning festival where baying crowd straps flaming wooden horns to terrified animal. . . in the name of entertainment.  The sickening Joy of the Bull - or Toro Jubilo festival - is one of the 'cultural' highlights of the entertainment calendar for residents in the Medieval village of Medinaceli, in the province of Soria, north east of Madrid.

This sounds barbaric as the distressed bull writhing in pain is tied to a post and set alight to death, in front of a baying crowd.  The terrified animal has no escape route, gets pinned to the floor, men strap wooden stakes doused in flammable chemicals to its horns, and set it on fire with few more showing their  bravery by tormenting the terrified animal.  Daily Mail reports that in this year’s festival, which took place recently, more than 1,500 people crowded behind barriers and strained for a view of the cruel spectacle.

It occurred at  the village of Medinaceli, in the province of Soria, north east of Madrid.  A bullring was constructed in the main square and sand scattered on the floor. Several bonfires were built in preparation for the arrival of the bull. As fiercely hot sparks and embers drip from the burning torches tied to its horns, the bull looked around in stunned bewilderment; in the night the fires were lit using paraffin and the three-year-old bull, named Liebro, was dragged in on a rope held by many men dressed in grey uniforms. It was tied to a post by its horns and a plank of wood attached to a metal bar doused in pitch - a highly combustible mixture of turpentine and sulphur.  Fiercely hot sparks and embers dripped from the burning torches onto the bewildered animal; the  distressed bull was then released, thrashed around the ring to the cheers of the crowds.

You cannot call the tormenting a sport by any means.  When young locals took turns to provoke the terrified animal, public reportedly jumped into the ring, taunted the animal adding to its terror and confusion. Gasping for air, the bull finally reached a state of exhaustion after nearly 45 minutes of torment and was soon dragged out the ring by villagers and butchered.

Some campaigners against the game cry that this barbaric festival causes the animal phenomenal stress and fear – it is no sport, cruelty, thy name.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
15th Nov. 2012  {Inputs of the gory Toro Jubilo festival taken from}

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