Marina Beach has turned into a sea of bonfires as people continue to protest against Jallikattu ban.
Bonfires dotted a 6-km stretch Marina Beach in Chennai as nearly 15,000 protesters demanding the return of Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu, prepared to spend their third night beside the sea. The crowd tonight is made up not just of young men and women, but entire families, some with children less than one year old, surrounded the bonfires.
The area has an almost festive air. At least 8 podiums have been built on the beach from where speakers address the surrounding crowds. Here and there are pit-stops for food, where volunteers are ladling out hot sambar and rice, biriyani and curd rice. For the thirsty, there are steaming cups of tea and samosas.
As Nandini and her friends supply free dinner and water to the protesters, her little son, in his Superman suit, has chipped in. He, too, is offering food packets to all comers. "I am a homemaker and can't join the protest daily. This is my small contribution," she said.
Thousands gathered at the Marina Beach protesting against Jallikattu ban
On the last two nights, many of the protesters had gone home to rest. Today, people had started pouring in late in the evening, mostly after work. Even at midnight, families were seen walking in.
Many of them say they were drawn in by the talk of the protest on social media. Like many of the young people, Rosaline and Vignesh had been skipping college to mark their presence here. Vignesh, a final year engineering student, said, "It is important for students to participate in these protests to preserve our culture".
Abhishek Parthasarathy, an employee of Harley Davidson, has volunteered to regulate traffic on the choked beach road. His concern is all about protecting native breeds of animals. "They banned the cock fights. Broilers came in. They discriminated against the local dogs. Labrador and other breeds came with Pedigree and Royal canine feed. Now due to the ban on Jallikattu, we will lose our best cows and get Jersey milk," he said.
Volunteers ladled out hot sambar and rice, biryani at Jallikattu protest at Marina Beach.
The AIADMK government is said to be considering an ordinance or executive order to circumvent the ban on the bull-taming festival after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he could not do so.
The protests, completely peaceful so far, are set to escalate in the morning, with film stars, transporters, traders and lawyers joining in. Businesses, cinemas and schools will be closed on Friday and public transport will be off the roads.