Even as a raging debate on the ban of the bull taming sport Jallikattu in the state of Tamil Nadu goes on, a similiar scenario is brewing in the state of Assam.
The Gauhati High Court has banned the traditional bulbul bird fight at the Hayagrib Madhab Mandir, an ancient pilgrim centre at Hajo in Assam.
Vacation bench judge Rumi Kumari Phukan passed the order on Tuesday after considering various provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960.
The judge modified the earlier order passed on December 22 whereby the ban of bulbul fight imposed by Kamrup district administration was kept in abeyance. The application was filed by Animal Welfare Board of India.
The order triggered reactions in Hajo and across the state with the temple priests claiming the bird fight was part of a religious ritual in which obeisance to Lord Vishnu began with it.
"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," Shiva Prasad Sarma, doloi of the Hayagriva-Madhava temple who is fasting in the temple, told Indian Express.
The priests were also in dilemma as how to conduct the religious ceremony going on for centuries in view of the court order.
Those training the birds for the traditional ritual claimed there was no cruelty involved as no bird was hurt during the training process.
The birds were kept in open space and not in cages, while the string around their feet was tied loosely so that the bulbuls were in no way injured, they claimed.
A report in The Asian Age adds:
It is difficult to imagine bulbuls fighting for anything more than a perch. But they can, especially when bred and trained like roosters that often fight to the death with sharpened beaks, claws and razor blades. And all the while, millions change hands in illegal bets....Hundreds of bulbuls are carried to the temple and starved for a couple of days to make them angry.