Jallikattu also known as Eruthazhuvuthal is a sporting event held mainly in the villages of Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal (Sankranthi) celebrations. It involves a group of people who try to tame a number of bulls which are made to run for about 15 m usually one by one. This practice is known to be in existence even during the Sangam period, thus making it at least about 2000 years old.
Recently, Jallikattu came under a cloud of controversies as many western organizations like PETA and liberal intellectuals called it as an act of cruelty on animals and as a result it was banned by the Supreme Court on 7 May 2014. Thereafter many attempts have been made by the government of Tamil Nadu and the Government of Bharat to support the farmers in their plea to revoke the ban. Let us have a detailed analysis over this issue.
The bulls used for Jallikattu are mainly the native breeds which are on the brink of destruction. These bulls are grown only for the purpose of Jallikattu. The calves which are to be used for jallikattu are fed a nutritious diet so that they develop into strong and sturdy animals. The calves, once they reach adolescence are taken to small events to familiarize them with the atmosphere and specific training is given based on the variant of the event it is meant for. In general, bulls are trained to not allow strangers to come near them. For the people who raise these bulls, the animals are said to be sacred to them. These bulls are worshipped every day and are buried with honor like any other family member.
Jallikattu is held throughout the Pongal festival but mainly on the Maatu Pongal day. Pongal is a harvest festival where people celebrate different factors required for agriculture. On the Maatu Pongal day, the cattle which is an important part of agriculture is celebrated and people celebrate it with Jallikattu after worshipping the cows. Jallikattu is conducted mostly in temples (is this one of the reasons why it is targeted by left-liberals?).
During the event, prizes are announced to encourage the youth to participate. After the event, tamed weak bulls are used for domestic activities and agriculture, meanwhile the untamable strong bulls are used for breeding the cows. Thus wild nature of the bulls are inherited to its next generation, even though these country bulls are domesticated a very long time ago. Jallikattu is said to be ingenious where both sport with adrenaline rush for youth and preservation of Ecosystem by preserving country bulls works well together. The rules of Jallikattu are as follows:
- The bull will start running from the Gopura vaasal (entrance of the temple) also called as Vaadivaasal
- The contestants should try to tame the bull by holding only its hump one by one. Grabbing any other parts of the body like ears, horns, tail etc., will lead to disqualification. If more than one contestant grabs the hump then no one will be declared as winner.
- The contestant who holds the hump of the bull till it reaches the finish line will be declared as winner. If no one is holding its hump when it reaches the finishing line, then the bull will be the winner.
- If the harming of participating bull is found, then whoever is responsible for it will be disqualified
Thus, these rules show that Jallikattu is a sporting event which gives utmost respect to the animals. But contrary to these rules, the western NGOs began preaching about the abstract cruelty on bulls leading to outrage on this festival from different parts of the country. The NGOs claimed that the bulls are given alcohol to make them run madly during the event contradicting the well-known fact given by the farmers that consumption of alcohol even in very small amounts will cause the bull to sleep for long hours unlike the claims of these activists. The farmers also claimed that banning Jallikattu will lead to the destruction of the native breeds of cattle as poor farmers will never raise bulls in their household if they can’t meet with its expenses which are obtained from Jallikattu as prize money which will make breeding of cattle difficult, making native farmers opt for artificial insemination, the patents of which are mostly present with foreign industries.
Many personalities like Amy Jackson, Virat Kohli, Vidya Balan etc., showed their support on the ban of Jallikattu as they involve cruelty to bulls. But they don’t seem to acknowledge the fact that unlike the sporting events involving bulls in other countries, Jallikattu is the only sport where the bull is not killed after the event – instead they are used for breeding purposes and are made to participate in the event till they are defeated in the sport after which they are used for agricultural purpose.
When the Supreme Court rejected to reconsider its ban in November 2016, many intellectual personalities like Ms. Radha Rajan expressed their happiness and said that Jallikattu can never be held until the Prevention of Cruelty on Animals Act is in existence. But the act involves only the procedure of harming animals like wounding, causing it pain, abandoning it during sickness, inhumane killing etc. Jallikattu involves none of these, and the act itself has a regulation which says it is not applicable in case of farming, making Jallikattu free of this act. And if halal, which is a form of inhumane killing, can’t be banned under this act then should we really consider this sort of cultural attack happening on Hindus through this act? Thus, this shows that foreigners who are driven by greed and other motives are promoting the NGOs and others to spread lies about this ancient practice, in order to destroy the native bulls used for reproduction destroying not only our healthy bulls but also our cultural values.
Editor’s Note: Jallikattu is an integral part of Tamil culture which is being senselessly destroyed by various vested interests (NGO-missionary-Western Universalist lobby), while real animal cruelty involved in the meat business is ignored. Those interested in understanding more about this issue would do well to follow this twitter handle @sUrasaMhAran. There is also a protest in support of Jallikattu being organized at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi from 2 – 8 Jan that you can attend –
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