In a country with a plural character, after one particular animal, the cow, is made 'holy', it is undemocratic that even an individual's traditional right of consuming beef has become a 'crime' these days. Receiving a tip off, an angry crowd, armed with deadly weapons, reach the Muslim beef eater's home and lynch him for the 'crime'. But, it is a wonder that no such people were murdered for eating beef in Coimbatore decades ago.
Sarcastically mentioned as 'Periyattu Kari' ( Big goat's meat), beef was eaten by the people in the slum areas including Puliyakulam and Ammankulam. Since most residents from these two localities were from a lower socio-economic background, they could afford to buy only beef, as the prices of mutton and chicken were so high even those days.
It was a common sight that a number of beef stalls functioned busy along the Sowripalayam Road in Puliyakulam. Further, near the junction, where the Asia's largest statue of Lord Ganesha stands now, functioned a pork stall, serving its customers hot idlis with tasty meat.
The beef cattle were also seen slaughtered in Yerimedu, which connects Ammankulam and Puliyakulam on the banks of the Sanganur stream. Hence, the frightened children of Ammankulam, who walked with their parents to watch films in the yesteryear movie halls Maniam and Krishna at Ramanathapuram, would beg them not to take the short route via Yerimedu.
44 year old Jayaprakash from Ammankulam, a school bus driver, recalls:
“ My mother was an expert in making tasty dishes in beef, and not a Sunday would pass our home without a delicious meal in cow's meat ”
Nonetheless, it is hardly correct to conclude that beef was eaten only by the people, who were from a lower socio-economic background.
According to the book Pasauvin Punidham : Marukkum Aadharangal by D. N. Jha, the ceremony of sacrificing animals in the rituals called 'Yajnas' and consuming their meat dates back to the Vedic age with the settlement of the Indo- Aryans in India.
The verses in the Rigveda, a literature portraying the Aryan social life, inform that their Gods Indra, Agni and Soma loved eating beef. Also, Lord Indra speaks in a verse that He had eaten the meat of around 1000 oxen !. Taittriya Samhita, another Vedic text, even instructs the method of sacrificing animals in Yajnas and how their meat should be shared among the people.
Moreover, a work of Dharmasutra ( A manual of early Hindu law) points out that the meat of the cow and oxen is pure and worth to be eaten.
Yajnavalkya, the well-known sage and philosopher in the court of king Janaka in Mithila, loved eating beef and preferred more, if it was the meat of a calf !
Source: Pasuvin Punidham : Marukkum Aadharangal – D.N.Jha. V. Govindasamy in Tamil.
Link to my article in The New Indian Express: http://epaper.newindianexpress.com/c/6757157