srini at engin.umich.edu
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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