In Assam, a debate over banning bulbul fights

Every Makar Sankranti, which coincides with Assam's harvest festival Bhogali Bihu, bulbul fights are organised in the Hayagriva-Madhava temple in Hajo, about 30 km from Guwahati.

Written by Samudra Gupta Kashyap | Guwahati | Updated: January 14, 2016 9:03 am
Assam, bulbul fight, bulbul fight assam, bulbul fight india, assam bulbul, assam bulbul fight, india bulbul, india bulbul fight, india news, assam news Bulbul fight is held only on the day of makar sankranti, which also coincides with bhogali bihu – the harvest festival – of Assam. (File/AP Photo)

Away from the Supreme Court order restraining the Tamil Nadu government from holding Jallikattu bullfights, a debate is playing out in Assam on fights between members of a smaller species, the bulbul.

Every Makar Sankranti, which coincides with Assam’s harvest festival Bhogali Bihu, bulbul fights are organised in the Hayagriva-Madhava temple in Hajo, about 30 km from Guwahati. Last month, ruling in a case between the Assam government and the temple management, Gauhati HC had allowed the tradition to continue. On Tuesday, the court stayed that order, effectively prohibiting bulbul fights.

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The stay order evoked strong protests Wednesday, with the doloi (head priest) of the temple sitting on an indefinite fast. “We are not against the court order, but we are hurt because the bulbul fight is part of the religious traditions of our temple. Moreover, we take utmost care of the birds and release them after the fights are over,” said Shiva Prasad Sarma, doloi of the Hayagriva-Madhava temple. While he fasted on the temple premises, other members of the temple committee staged a sit-in .

People of surrounding villages catch bulbul chicks and rear them for a few weeks before they are taken to the temple premises on Makar Sankranti; the owners of the winners get various prizes. The birds do sustain injuries during the fight. Those that lose are let off after trimming the crest so that they do not enter a contest again. There is no betting on the fights.

Moves to ban the tradition began in January last year when the Assam government issued an order, based on earlier SC orders. The temple committee challenged it through a writ petition. On December 22, a single judge bench stopped operation of the government order.

The Animal Welfare Board of India challenged the court order. On Tuesday evening, Justice Rumi Kumari Phukan, holding a vacation court, invoked the SC’s earlier orders and stayed the high court’s December 22 order. The judge suggested that the matter be later taken up by a division bench.

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  1. S
    Sirius
    Jan 14, 2016 at 7:34 am
    Human rights rank below Animal (Monkeys, Bulls, Dogs) rights ! That they maul, maim, infect 100's of humans from Bengaluru to Bareilly is a small statistic not even worth mentioning ! All hail the activists and lordships for showing us the path ...
    Reply
    1. B
      Biltu
      Jan 14, 2016 at 9:03 am
      BUL BUL FIGHTS BRING SHAME TO OUR RELIGION. THE PRIEST CANNOT BE A TRUE HINDU.
      Reply
      1. B
        Biltu
        Jan 13, 2016 at 5:23 pm
        TO MAKE TWO BIRDS FIGHT CAN ONLY BE ENJO BY PERVERTED MINDS.
        Reply
        1. I
          IslamForFoools
          Jan 13, 2016 at 6:24 pm
          and what do you say about painful murders of animals by muslims in the name of Halal and kuran? Do guuys like you say that out loud when they do it? Sick minded people you are, you islamists
          Reply
          1. G
            Gruham Bendakaluru
            Jan 13, 2016 at 4:07 pm
            It would be better to have the poojaris of temples fight each other to the death. That way, we will soon have less of these social parasites.
            Reply
            1. J
              Jagadeesh V
              Jan 13, 2016 at 3:44 pm
              Why does the court poke its nose to meddle into freedom of religion given by consution?
              Reply
              1. B
                Babu Rao
                Jan 13, 2016 at 4:25 pm
                Ban goat animal slaughter on bakri eid
                Reply
                1. I
                  IslamForFoooools
                  Jan 13, 2016 at 10:17 pm
                  It applies to every single person who wants to speak against hindus when we want use animals in friendly way, but such ignorent people will keep selective mutism when muslims abuse and murder animals in halal way, my point is, if you are coward and cant speak against muslim for any animal cruelty you have no right to selectively target hindus and Hindu festivals, dont tel me that you also are hindu, in my opinion people like you are coward hindus with no self respect or respect for hinduism and keep babbling anywhere they get chance against hindus, but hide inside their mothers lap when muslims come out and keep killing animals and humans. so bugger off you pseudointellectual, get some perspective and then talk to me
                  Reply
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