Goa is paradise for football. But after football very few other sports conjure a response as bullfighting does here. The fanatic game here also comes with a ‘ability’ of betting on participating animals.
To give an instance: A hastily typed WhatsApp message, peppered with typos, canvassing a contest between 'Rocky' and 'Tyson' near Goa's Siridao beach, isn't an invite to a boxing match. More likely, it is a hush-hush call to witness an illegal bullfight between two well-groomed fighting bulls, a rage in Goa's coastal underground.
The deaths of bulls in the fights have elevated the hackles of Goa's gaurakshaks and animals' rights activists, who demand to crack down on such fights from the state government. The fights are already being banned by the Bombay High Court since 1996.
HOW THE FIGHT TAKES PLACE
A typical dhiri (singular) involves two specially reared fighting bulls or male buffalo, with fine physiques and sharpened horns, head-butting each other until one scampers away from the ring, indicating defeat. In combat, the participating bulls sometimes adorn a distinctive coloured sash, quite like boxers who wear colour-coded attire to match their respective corners of the ring.
Since such fights are illegal, invitations to these affairs are passed on at extremely short notice (an hour at maximum) through private groups on social media platforms, filled with eager dhirio aficionados. Apart from invitations, fighting bull owners often use such restricted groups to dare others or challenge other fighting bull owners to combat.
"If the bulls are popular, with victories under their belt, the owner of a winning bull could come away with Rs. 1 to Rs. 5 lakh in one single fight," a fighting bull owner from Siolim village in North Goa told IANS on condition of anonymity.
The bulls are fed on a special diet of grain, jaggery, coconut, cane, vegetables and a strict exercise regimen, which involves plenty of running. Some bulls are also brought in from South Maharashtra and pitted against locally groomed bulls. But the aggressive fights also lead to injuries, and in rare cases fatalities amongst the beast, which has riled animals' rights activists.
On Wednesday, Goa Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant has also directed Goa Police to bust down on illegal bullfights.
(With inputs from IANS)