I see a lot of protests for Jallikkattu all around the state… which makes me sad that we have to fight for our own traditions to be continued, and also makes me happy that we have recognized our identity… not as a state, not as a language-speaking group, but more as a mass of people that is unified by our affinity and devotion to the aspects that are deeply ingrained in our cultures.
In between all the bright fringes of happiness and the darkness of the organizations that are backing the ban, I see a haze… a haze that I’d trace the origin to the the early 1900s…maybe even the late 1800s. My constant fear is that the ‘haze’ would take over the darkness and make us believe that what we see in the ‘haze’ is real, and there’s nothing beyond it – well… that’s been the strategy for all these years they have been operating.
I would love to look back at the time of Henry Ford – the time when there was a possibility of electric cars, but just because his research and the ‘Assembly Line’ model shouldn’t fail, he pressed the importance of cars that run on fossil-fuels. What we have today is a world full of fossil-fuel-exhaust, a rediscovered need for not polluting the environment, odd-even rules… and electric cars in the making!! And I’m sure the electric cars are gonna cost a fortune! Wouldn’t they have been cheaper if they were developed a century ago?
Let’s think about toothpastes!! Fluoride was a revolution. It was the greatest thing that ever happened to teeth since the teeth themselves – they said. All of our traditional practices like salt, charcoal, neem and cloves were laughed at! A person who brushed their teeth with the neem stick or charcoal was looked at with a sense of disgust and gleeful pity. And now, there are questions asked by toothpaste companies: “Does your toothpaste have salt? Neem? Charcoal? Clove?” What makes this disgustingly better is that these toothpastes cost more than the regular fluoride pastes!!
I’d say the same with the food-grains! We were healthy when we harvested Samba, Kuruvai and Thaladi. Horse-gram, millets and jowar were traditional foods of our land. Brown Rice was everywhere. I’d say the same for traditional grains like Quinoa. Then came the time when Maida was glorified and wheat was pushed to the same status as charcoal and salt – eating a naan was considered more prestigious than eating a roti. IR-8 has replaced our traditional rices – all good right? And now…we have Brown Rice advertised as ‘Rich in Fiber’ and whole wheat advertised as ‘low glycemic index’ and quinoa advertised as ‘super food’! Don’t even get me started on the prices!!
Last, but not the least – the cola and the bottled beverages industry. Weren’t we all happy drinking some of the best beverages – shikhanji, jaljeera, kokum, aamras, jigarthanda (And for those who need the ‘high’) sunda kanji, bhaang, toddy and feni? Somehow, they brought in a craze about these ‘sweetened carbonated water’ drinks, attaching various emotions that were vulnerable to – courage, happiness, pride and appeal to the opposite sex. The brands had become an inevitable part of our lives, and slowly, they stepped into bottling water – it was their master-stroke!! They have polluted our water sources, and they are selling our own waters to us… with their labels on it – nothing more! And what are we left with? A bunch of diabetics, a stomach full of gas.. and loads of plastic!! It’s not just profits for them, but even for Pharma companies.
Apply the same logic to jallikattu and you’ll be able to see the picture! Dairy is one of the industries untouched by the multinational filth… or at least, a good portion remains so. I won’t be detailing on what will happen to our native cattle breeds if bulls are lost. This is just to open the third eye of the people who are still lost in the dirty-yet-appealing surreality of the ‘haze’! It will be too late to recover.. and don’t be surprised one day, if a big global brand trumpets loud to the world talking about the goodness of the milk from Indian Native breeds… and you buy for a huge price, what was rightfully yours a few years ago!!
Maybe tomorrow, there will be a PETP for plants (because plants also have life, y’know?), not letting you eat your own produce, and genetically modified fruits will be your food. It will spoil your health, and you’ll be sold natural foods at a higher price. Maybe tomorrow, there will be a PETBAVI for Bacteria and Viruses in the air (Life there again!!) and you won’t be able to breathe the air, because it kills some organisms… and for all you know, you might be even buying bottled air!!
Yes… there is culture, there is tradition, there is identity, and there is pride (though I am not really ‘proud’ of something I didn’t choose!), and there is happiness in knowing how deep our practices go… but more than anything, just remember that there is something called livelyhood! We let them take a lot of our livelihood… and quite some of our lives!! Let me conclude with the words of John Kennedy when he addressed the UN after Dag Hammarskjold died “SAVE IT WE CAN.. AND SAVE IT WE MUST! THEN ALONE SHALL WE EARN THE ETERNAL BLESSINGS OF MANKIND!”
And for a change “JAI WORLD” (It’s not about a state, or a country – it’s about a planet and a species called Homo sapiens, which somehow legalized a stealthy cannibalism)
PS: I think we should really start an organization called PRTTCH (People for Rational Treatment of Traditions, Culture & Humanity)