The fighting bulls of Benaulim in Goa:
Strolling on Benaulim beach or into the nearby village, It is common to see a gigantic well built water buffalo or bull with long pointed horns, tied up to a tree. These well fed and strong bulls are the keepers of one of Benaulim's traditions, the bull fight or the 'Dhirio' in local Konkani. Bull fights traditionally took place as a leisure activity. The farmers of Benaulim who also reared cattle selected the strongest bull in the herd and nourished it well for the traditional bull fighting season.
While Bull fights are not legal, most locals are well aware of the location of the next big fight and its star participants. The Dhirios are usually held in the winter months from November to May, in the vacant fields on the outskirts of the village. In a Dhirio, 2 bulls fight each other, till one is badly injured and the standing one is declared the winner. A typical Dhirio attracts crowds of more the 200 to 300 from across the state. Betting is allowed and sometimes the stakes can be amazingly high.
At a Dhirio, one should be cautious as there are no protective walls or fences separating the fighting bulls and the audience. People simple stand in a big circle around the fighting bulls. Very often a charging bull that wants to run away from the fight can charge onto the crowd which can be fatal, if the people are not fast enough to escape the bull.
The Bulls at a Dhiro are well fed and taken for regular work out sessions which include running long stretches along the beach and regular medical examinations. Most bulls are named after famous boxers or wrestlers to display their strength. The Dhirios of Benaulim are well worth a visit, for a glimpse into the action and passion of this sport which has become a tradition.
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