My opinion on Controversy over the use of Bulls for the Penang Thaipusam festival

Hare Krishna. Talking about the Chariot & Bull issue at the Penang Thaipusam festival, there is more to abuse of animals than just bulls struggling to pull an overloaded chariot. What happens to animals beginning with breeding, growth, feeding, unnatural habitat, modification bodies, sardine packed transportation, brutal killings and murder just so that the parts of the animals viz flesh, bones, blood, marrow, heart, lungs, liver, etc to end in luxury plates, all simply for the satisfaction of the palate. One can understand the reason for Sir Paul McCartney to say that “ IF ONLY SLAUGHTERHOUSES HAD GLASS WALLS EVERYONE WOULD BE A VEGETARIAN....”

Back to the issue of the Penang Thaipusam chariot blunder, no doubt it was a blunder but organizers should continue with bull for pulling but use their God given brains to calculate the weight and power needed and engage bulls properly while also having ropes for humans to pull while chanting hymns to supplement the load factor thus not torturing the bulls. It was the tractor which replaced bulls in straight and other services and when mankind or rather mancruel saw the redundancy of he bulls, this began the slaughterhouses in wide scale.

When we organised a 14 days Padayatra (walking on foot) festival in 1993 using bullock cart. We walked from Penang Island to Pelam Eatate in Kedah. The festival was so joyous and our bulls were constantly fed with lots of fruits, grass and jaggery and given ample rest. Children and even adults were just caught in rapt attention seeing the bulls and cart while devotees chanted and danced all the way along and many times we worked with the bulls in pulling the cart and at other times we even replaced ourselves with the bulls.

And appended below is text 3 from the Punishment and Reward in Kali Yuga chapter 17 of the Srimad Bhagavatam

TEXT 3
gāṁ ca dharma-dughāṁ dīnāṁ
bhṛśaṁ śūdra-padāhatām
vivatsām āśru-vadanāṁ
kṣāmāṁ yavasam icchatīm
SYNONYMS
gām—the cow; ca—also; dharma-dughām—beneficial because one can draw religion from her; dīnām—now rendered poor; bhṛśam—distressed; śūdra—the lower caste; pada-āhatām—beaten on the legs; vivatsām—without any calf; āśru-vadanām—with tears in her eyes; kṣāmām—very weak; yavasam—grass; icchatīm—as if desiring to have some grass to eat.
TRANSLATION
Although the cow is beneficial because one can draw religious principles from her, she was now rendered poor and calfless. Her legs were being beaten by a śūdra. There were tears in her eyes, and she was distressed and weak. She was hankering after some grass in the field.
PURPORT
The next symptom of the age of Kali is the distressed condition of the cow. Milking the cow means drawing the principles of religion in a liquid form. The great ṛṣis and munis would live only on milk. Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī would go to a householder while he was milking a cow, and he would simply take a little quantity of it for subsistence. Even fifty years ago, no one would deprive a sādhu of a quart or two of milk, and every householder would give milk like water. For a Sanātanist (a follower of Vedic principles) it is the duty of every householder to have cows and bulls as household paraphernalia, not only for drinking milk, but also for deriving religious principles. The Sanātanist worships cows on religious principles and respects brāhmaṇas. The cow's milk is required for the sacrificial fire, and by performing sacrifices the householder can be happy. The cow's calf not only is beautiful to look at, but also gives satisfaction to the cow, and so she delivers as much milk as possible. But in the Kali-yuga, the calves are separated from the cows as early as possible for purposes which may not be mentioned in these pages of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The cow stands with tears in her eyes, the śūdra milkman draws milk from the cow artificially, and when there is no milk the cow is sent to be slaughtered. These greatly sinful acts are responsible for all the troubles in present society. People do not know what they are doing in the name of economic development. The influence of Kali will keep them in the darkness of ignorance. Despite all endeavors for peace and prosperity, they must try to see the cows and the bulls happy in all respects. Foolish people do not know how one earns happiness by making the cows and bulls happy, but it is a fact by the law of nature. Let us take it from the authority of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and adopt the principles for the total happiness of humanity.

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