Wednesday February 21, 2018

Find Out: Taboos still exist about Yoruba Land Culture and Tradition

Located in West Africa, Yorubaland is a country of traditions and beliefs. In the community of Yoruba, various taboos exist.

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Yoruba drumming ensemble. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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  • Taboos are developed so that there is peace and order in the society
  • The king is given the status of a demigod in the lands of Yoruba
  • Whistling attracts reptiles like snakes into the house

In order to maintain the society in acceptable ways, various practices are collectively looked down upon by the people. Taboos are developed so that there is peace and order in the society. All the communities in this world have their own social practices, customs, values and taboos. The various taboos that exist in the Yorubaland of West Africa are listed below.

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(i) Same-sex marriage is prohibited

People of Yorubaland do not practise same sex marriages. There have been instances where people have been caught in the act of sexual union of the same gender, in the northern parts of the country.  However, such an act is seen as a disgrace in this community and is prohibited.

(ii) Children should never look into the eyes of the elders when they are being rebuked 

It is seen as a sign of disrespect. Also, by not looking at the elder’s face, they are showing fear and respect for the elder.

(iii) Bare hands should not be used for collecting rain water

This is done to ensure accidents caused due to thunder are reduced. However, this taboo is hard to explain scientifically.

(iv) Ladies should not wear men’s clothing

This is especially relevant to trousers. It is based on traditional superstitions. This was enforced so that sanitation could be introduced in women’s dressing culture.

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(v) Pregnant women should not walk in the streets in the afternoon

It is believed that evil spirits roam the earth when the sun is at its brightest, from 12-3 p.m. If the pregnant women go to markets or streams during this time of the day, these evil spirits will enter her body, leading to the birth of deformed babies.

Map of Yorubaland, Africa. Wikimedia Commoms
Map of Yorubaland, Africa. Wikimedia Commoms

(vi) Kings of the land should not peer into their crowns

If they do so, it is believed that they will join their ancestors. However, kings who insist on committing suicide can be allowed to look into the insides of their crowns.

(vii) Whistling at night is not allowed

This practice is forbidden in Yorubaland. It is believed that whistling at night acts as an invitation for the evil spirits and demons to enter the houses of people to torment them. It also attracts reptiles like snakes into the house.

(viii) Suicide is considered an abomination

In Yorubaland, a dangling corpse is not lowered, until certain rituals are performed. Also, this body will only be buried in the evil forest and the outskirts of the town, to avoid the wrath of their gods. The family of such an individual becomes tainted in the society.

(ix) A king must never prostrate again

The king is given the status of a demigod and is required to never prostrate in front of anyone.

(x) People avoid eating meats of dogs, cats and pigs

It is considered an abomination to consume the meats of dogs, cats and pigs. However, the people of the Yoruba tribe consume African rabbit and the members of the Ondo tribe consume dog meat.

-By Devika Todi, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: devika_todi

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All You Need to Know About the Sport of Jallikattu

Jallikattu is certainly a dangerous sports, which poses a risk of life for the participants

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banned bull taming sport of Tamil Nadu
Jallikattu sport of Tamil Nadu. Wikimedia

By Ruchika Verma

  • Jallikattu is a traditional Tamil sport
  • The sport involves bulls and humans, the latter trying to control the former
  • The sport was banned in 2014, which created lots of controversies

Jallikattu or Sallikkattu, also known as ‘eru thazhuvuthal’ and ‘manju virattu’ traditionally, was in news last year, around this time due to the ban imposed on it by the Supreme Court. The ban was much hyped and gathered a plethora of media’s attention.

Jallikattu ban was much hyped. Wikimedia Commons
Jallikattu ban was much hyped. Wikimedia Commons

Jallikattu ban has also garnered lots of political attention due to the involvement of Tamil Nadu and Central governments. The issue is much hyped due to the political context involved in it too.

What exactly is Jallikattu? 

Jallikattu is a traditional sport and spectacle in which bulls of the Pulikulam or Kangayam breeds are released into a crowd of people, and multiple human participants attempt to control the bulls while they try to escape.

Jallikattu is seen as animal cruelty by many activists. Flickr
Jallikattu is seen as animal cruelty by many activists. Flickr

Jallikattu is practised in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations. The districts, Madurai, Thanjavur, and Salem are the most famous for conducting Jallikattu. The game dates back to Tamil classical period, which went back to 400 BC. Ancient Tamil Sangam literature described the practice as ‘Yeru thazhuvuthal’ which literally means “bull embracing.” With time the sport has become synonymous with valour and bravery.

Also Read: Tamil Nadu legalises Jallikattu with a New Law

What happens in Jallikattu and how?

The bulls participating in the game are all lined up behind a narrow gate and released one by one into the arena. The participants have to either control the bull by holding its hump or clutch away from a flag attached to the horns. Owners of the bulls often announce prizes for the man who gets the hold of their bull.

The objective of the game is not to kill or overpower the bull, but to hold onto their hump for a certain amount of time or distance.

The participants are only allowed to hold onto the hump of the Bull. www.in.com
The participants are only allowed to hold onto the hump of the Bull. www.in.com

There are three variants to the game. First, when the bulls are released from an enclosed area. Second, when the bull is directly released into the open ground. And third, when the bull is tied to a rope as the only restriction, and a team of 7-9 members has to untie the prize from the bull’s horns in 30 minutes of the time period.

The gate through which bulls enter the arena is called Vadi Vasai. The bulls charge at the men standing most near to the gate. One of the rules also says that a participant is only allowed to hold bull’s hump and no other body part. The other rules vary from region to region.

Also Read: Animal rights organisations challenge new law on Jallikattu

Jallikattu Ban and Controversy

Jallikattu is certainly a dangerous sport, which poses a risk of life for the participants.

In 2014, The Supreme Court banned the sport, endorsing the activists’ concerns according to which, Jallikattu is not only cruelty towards the animal, but also poses a threat to humans. According to the data provided, between 2010 and 2014, 17 people were killed and approximately 1000 were injured during Jallikatu.

The Jallikattu ban was protests by many Tamilians.
The Jallikattu ban was protested by many Tamilians.

However, the ban invited a lot of protests. Many Tamil communities called this ban a violation of their culture and tradition.

In 2017, many lawyers plead to remove the ban which was rejected by the court. After requests and arguments of Tamil communities, central government reversed the ban, however, after Supreme Court struck the order down, the ban was imposed again. However, the government of Tamil Nadu sanctioned the sport and brought it back into the practice.