Guest Author - Preena Deepak
Hunting festivals are celebrated by rural and tribal dwellers in India who uphold ancient customs and traditions. Paari Vettai is one such South Indian Temple festival hosted once every year. Though this festival has its roots in the Hindu religion, it began in commemoration of King Vallal Paari of the Chola Empire, a famous and beloved king whose deeds of kindness are still remembered and honored. During his reign King Vallal Paari led hunting expeditions each month as he was a veteran hunter. However in later years this renowned Indian King became a sage. Paari Vettai has since then been observed as a tribute to this South Indian ruler.
April is the much awaited time of the year when Paari Vettai occurs. All the residents of a village, whether young or old, male or female come together to hunt. Some communities hunt for birds and small animals while others in coastal areas engage in community fishing. No special hunting gear is used in Paari Vettai. Indigenous and readily available equipment like knives, stones and slings are used to hunt prey. Communities along the coast use even mosquito nets to catch fish.
At times even nearby hamlets join in the hunt and the whole occasion becomes an enjoyable adventure. At the end of the day, the entire community cooks and feasts on the day�s catch with much gaiety.
This hunting festival provides a platform to build community cohesiveness by bringing all the dwellers of a village and sometimes even those residing in nearby areas together. Worship rituals and other religious rites also form an important aspect of Paari Vettai. The entire day from dawn to dusk is one big celebration that unites communities.
In spite of the positive impact Paari vettai has on community living, mass hunting has some negative consequences on the environment. During each celebration, hundreds of animals, birds and fishes are hunted, at times even in restricted areas with a ban on hunting. This results in a massive destruction of animal life. Conservation issues are unheeded to by communities engaged in Paari Vettai. If measures to curtail excessive hunting and fishing especially in reserve areas are not taken, Paari Vettai could soon lead to colossal wreckage in the animal kingdom.
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