Jallikattu – The bull taming festival
Jallikattu is one of the oldest traditions of Tamil Nadu which can be dated back to Tamil classical period (400-100 B.C) (wiki). It is celebrated during the festival of Pongal, the harvest festival, which lasts for four days. Bhogi, Thai PPongal, Maattu Pongal, Kaanum Pongal are the names given to each day of the Pongal. Maattu Pongal is the day when Jallikatu is followed. Tamil Nadu people regard their cattle with great love and care as it helps in the day to day activities of the farmer.
Jallikattu also was known as Eruthazhuvuthal or Maju virattu is a bull taming festival which is celebrated on Maattu Pongal. A bull is released into the crowd where the participants for Jallikattu would be waiting. The participants would have to grab the bull hump, ride to a certain distance or attempt to stop the bull.In some cases, they would have to take the flag or the price money, tied to the horn of the bull. The winner is rewarded with a prize.
The word Salli and kattu, referred to as silver or gold tied on bull horns. Later on, Salli changed to Jalli that is how the name Jallikattu was originated. The proof that the Jallikattu is the centuries old tradition can be seen in the New Delhi National museums where there is a seal from the Indus Valley Civilization depicting the practice.
Variants of Jallikattu:
Vati Virattu: In this category, the bull would be released from an enclosure, and the participant must have to hold on to the bull for a predetermined time or distance for the prize.
Veli Virattu: In this type, the bull would be released to the open ground where the participant would be trying to subdue it.
Vatam Manjuvirattu: A bull would be tied to a rope of 50-foot-long rope (15m) with a team of players trying to subdue the bull within a specified time.
The specific bulls used for Jallikattu are given a nutritious diet so that they develop into strong and sturdy animals. They are also given training depending upon the variant which it participates. The bulls which are able to participate successfully being used in the studs for breeding to ensure that the offspring are also strong, less susceptible to any disease and as well produce high-quality milk.
Jallikattu is one of the traditional ways where farmers are able to hold on to this indigenous breed to preserve their genetic strength and trait. The bulls which perform well in the event would fetch a good price in the market, which in turn would be a great help for the farmers. Thus it would encourage the farmer to have the bulls, which otherwise are used as studs and bullock cart, agriculture etc. but are not being preferred much nowadays. So having a bull doesn’t serve many purposes so in order to preserve them, we should have all this to encourage them.
Contrives of Jallikattu:
Animal activists, FIAPO and PETA, are against it since 2004. The Animal welfare board of India has filed a case in Supreme Court to ban it for the cruelty against the animal and threat to the public safety. In 2010 Supreme Court permitted Tamil Nadu government to allow Jallikattu for five months in a year, under the supervision of the District collector. This also ensures that the animal participating in the event must be registered with the Animal welfare board and in return, the board must send a representative to monitor the event as well.
In 2011 Ministry of Environment and Forest had issued a notification that banned bulls as a performing animal, thereby banning the event, but the practice continued under the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act No 27 of 2009. But in 7 May 2014 Supreme Court struck down the State law and banned Jallikattu completely. On 8th January 2016 Ministry of Environment and Forest allowed to perform Jallikattu under a certain condition, effectively ending the ban; however, it was overturned by Supreme Court on 26 July 2016.
In January 2017, there are several protests happening against the ban of Jallikattu in different parts of Tamil Nadu.
When we look into other parts of the world where bulls are being tortured and slaughtered as a part of a game and others like the mass massacre of dolphins but this infamous act are never addressed rather continued without any hindrance.
The snapshots of the inhumane act upon the animals approves that Jallikattu is never a torture to the bulls. So it throws a question that whether this ban on Jallikattu really needs an approval in our country as it is a century old tradition.