Locking the Horns: The Gladiator Bull Fights of Bihu Festival

The Bull Fight

13 Kms from Sibsagar town is Simaluguri Station, the gateway to the historic Sibsagar town. What is so historic about Sibsagar? The Ahom dynasty? The architectural buildings, the tea gardens? Well something more!! The ferocious bull fights. Today is Rongali Bihu, the New Year in the state of Assam. The entire state is immersed today in celebrations and this will continue for a month, so I thought this is the ideal time to write this post.

Picture Courtesy: http://i1.trekearth.com/

Today, the town of Sibsagar celebrates its most important festival. The Rongali Bihu. The most important event, not to mention is the ferocious bull fight. Its the harvest time for this side of the country like any other; however, it is not the usual summer time, like the rest of the country. It rains here heavily, until the mid of May, which is the source of that fantastic cup of tea that lands on your breakfast table everyday. That makes it more of a reason for anyone to spend their summers here. You can kill the dreadful summer heat easily.

Coming back to the Bull Fight, this event is the most awaited one during the Bihu Festival for many reasons. It is traditional, it comes straight from the Ahom Dynasty and the venue is Rang Ghar, the ancient official Gladiator Symposium of the Royal Family. The villagers prepare the bulls three months in advance. It is said that the owner sharpens the horns of the bull diligently, for months together. The bull is trained, fed and bred for the final day, when it will be time for the bull to draw the first blood on the field..

Also Read about Rang Ghar: Small Town Attractions-Sibsagar: Wandering through the legacies of the Ahom Dynasty

Until last year, the traditional fight had been banned by the state, owing to the dangers involved. The fight is similar to the Duel Fights of the Dutch, where in the two opponents riding on the horse back with long swords, take a gallop towards each other in full speeds and only one would survive the wrath of that fight.

As the two ferocious opponents face each other, they await the gates to open, which hold them back, the respective owners of the bulls try to persuade and enrage the giant sized animal. Once the gates open and its a go, the two opponents will run towards each other, with no fear or remorse. As they collide, it is like two large mountains colliding, trying to split each other apart, their heads strong enough to break through a brick wall, or who knows may be through concrete walls.

Pic Courtesy: http://tezpuronline.in/

The bulls knock each other once, gauge each other and lock horns again, and the tussle continues, till one of them gives in to the fight. Sometimes, the giants lose and go beyond control, often taking off their anger on the crowd around. The event is similar to the ‘Bull Fight Festivals of Spain’, or the Philippines. 

Picture Courtesy: https://bijitdutta.files.wordpress.com/

The event is also followed by traditional dance, music and merriment. The Rang Ghar  is especially crowded on the occasion for the celebrations and gets flooded with people from across the state, to witness the event. People also involve in betting on the bulls and is considered a part of the tradition.

While for most of the people, this event is traditional and close to the heart, off late, the people have started to realize the value of conservation of animals and there has been concern to control such events by the State Government, considering the experiences of the past. Hope, a much better way to enjoy the festival may be figured out in the near future.

Its time for me to enjoy the rest of the festival today. Will be writing more about the festival very soon, Till then, Khokoloke Rongali Bihur Khubekkha janibo porai…..(Best Wishes to all for Rongali Bihu)

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