painted goats

Srinivasan Pichumani srini at
Thu Dec 5 22:09:49 UTC 1996

        Long time ago I was in a Tamilnadu village during the Tamil New Year 
        festival (Pongal) and noticed a great number of bulls and buffaloes 
        painted for the festival. There was some talk about a buffalo sacrifice, 
        but majority of these animals had probably nothing to do with it.
Pongal is a harvest/agriculture/solar oriented festival
occuring around Jan 14... celebrated as Makara Sankranti
in other regions...  certainly, it is not the Tamil New 
Year festival which falls in April. 

The day after Pongal is usually called mATTu-pongal (lit. 
cow/buffalo-Pongal)... on this day, the cows, bulls, buffaloes 
are dressed up with bright colored markings, bells, flowers,
and such... and are taken around town. 
There is usually a bullfight-style contest around that time 
known as "jallikkaTTu", with the winner taking the prize
tied to the horn of the animal... no killing of the animal
takes place, as far as I know.
I have not heard of buffalo sacrifices either... it would 
be even more surprising if it were to take place on this 
festive occasion when one's cattle possessions are dressed 
up and paraded around... sacrifices of fowl, goats occur
commonly, on various occasions, in mAriamman temples and 

ps: Us philistines in North America celebrate all such 
festivals, in almost entirely a public manner, during 
the nearest weekend... or even two weekends before/after 
depending on when the local school district grants the 
use of their facilities.  

In some cases this never happens since the local Tamil
Sangam has become persona non grata with the school
district... owing to enthusiastic kids causing false
fire alarms, 911 emergency calls, in plenty ;-).  This 
distinguished record is shared by some other linguistic
groups too, I believe.

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