After the Supreme Court recently refused to lift the ban on age-old Jallikattu festival in Tamil Nadu, another festival involving bulbul birds in Assam has been temporarily banned, reports Deccan Herald.
The bulbul fight is an annual ritual that takes place at Hayagriva Madhava - a historic temple in
The Gauhati high court on Tuesday stayed its own earlier order allowing the ritual, until hearing on January 20. This means the festival won't be held on Makar Sankranti this year.
In January 2015, an order prohibiting bulbul fights in the temple had been issued by the state government. Later, the order was contested by the temple committee in December. A single bench of the Gauhati high court had then annulled the state order on December 22. The decision was not welcomed by animal rights activists.
The latest stay order came after the Animal Welfare Board of India challenged the high court's previous order. According to a report by The Times of India, the board observed that such fights amounted to an act of cruelty against animals and violated the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
It is claimed that Bulbuls, or “songbirds” as they are popularly called, are taken from the wild by villagers. They are then intoxicated and fed marijuana, and are even starved the night before the fight, says a Humane Society International press release. However, temple authorities claim teh birds are not harmed and are set free immediately after the festival.
The ritual attracts a huge crowd to the temple. Here's a video of the festival: