A cloud of uncertainty looms over the age-old ‘Pasuvula Panduga’, conducted as part of the Sankranti festivities, in the Tirupati district, with the police department announcing a strict ban on such events.
While a fierce ‘Jallikattu’ is celebrated with great fervour in Tamil Nadu, a milder version of it is observed across the composite Chittoor district bordering Tamil Nadu on Kanuma, the last day of the three-day Pongal, and is dedicated to livestock.
While Tamil Nadu’s bull-taming event involves valour and often leads to bloodshed, the Andhra Pradesh variant has the bulls running amock and the courageous youth attempting to snatch the prize money tied to the bullhorns.
The festival is observed with great fanfare in Arepalli Rangampeta village in Chandragiri mandal, around 18 km from Tirupati. Youth from the nearby villages converge here for the festival in advance, and the local bull owners, with their herds of cattle in tow, rush to get themselves enrolled for the event.
Ban is nothing new
The ban has always been in place, and the police department normally issues a circular ahead of the festival every year, informing the public about the ban in no uncertain terms. However, the festival organisers go ahead with the event, understandably with the tacit support of the political heads, irrespective of the party in power. The role of the local cops is confined to standing guard and rescuing injured persons at the event.
However, this year, the warning from the Superintendent of Police P. Parameswara Reddy comes well in advance, apparently in view of the Kandukur and Guntur stampedes.
The Chandragiri police have already filed a case against the organisers of the ‘Pasuvula Pandaga’ and issued notices to A. Rangampeta and Sanambatla villages, educating them about the ban.
“Violation of animal and human rights will not be allowed under any circumstances in the name of public entertainment or ancient tradition. Apart from the organisers, the bull owners will also be booked for complicity. Of late, it has transformed into a commercial activity,” says Mr. Parameswara Reddy, indicating that the event has transformed into an organised trade.
He also asserted that the ban would be strictly enforced in view of COVID-19 cases resurfacing. The involvement of organised betting gangs is also not ruled out.
Keeping their fingers crossed, the villagers are waiting with bated breaths for the police to come up with relaxations.