Things you need to know about Tamil Nadu’s bull taming sport Jallikattu

Amar Ashok Jajoo | Jan 21, 2017 17:06

A bull being tamed in Jallikattu held in Palamedu, Tamil Nadu. (Picture Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In May 2014, the Supreme Court of India banned the Jallikattu sport following a decade old battle by animal activists and organisations like Federation of India Animal Protection Agencies (FIAPO) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

The Government of India then passed an order reversing the ban. However, the Supreme Court upheld the ban on January 14, 2016. While there were protests in 2016 as well, the protests have grown to magnanimous proportions this year.

The Jallikattu ordinance draft prepared by Tamil Nadu has already got a nod from the Central Government. The ordinance calls for an exception of bulls in the Prevention of Cruelty to animals act. The Central Government before this had also requested the apex court to delay its judgment on Jallikattu citing ‘huge unrest’ in Tamil Nadu.

Whether Jallikattu will take place or not this year only time will tell but it has certainly brought many common and high profile people together for the peaceful protest. Here’s all you need to know about Tamil Nadu’s bull taming sport Jallikattu!

What is Jallikattu?

→ Jallikattu is a sport which takes place on Mattu Pongal – the third day of the four-day long harvest festival Pongal.

→ The word ‘mattu’ means bull in Tamil, and the third day of the harvest festival is dedicated to cattle which plays a crucial role in farming. Bulls are given more importance than cows as they are used by farmers on the farmlands to plough the field, pull the goods cart and inseminate cows resulting in an offspring, in production of milk and preserving species.

→ The tradition is believed to be 2,500 years old and is believed to have first taken place between 400 to 100 BC.

→ During Jallikattu, temple bulls from different villages are readied for the sport and brought in together at a common place.

→ All these bulls are then let go one by one into a ground wherein participants have to tame it by getting a hold of the bull’s hump and bring it to a stop by riding it for as long as possible.

→ The one which could not be tamed are considered stronger and are used for breeding cows. The one that could be tamed are tagged as weaker and are just used got domestic purposes by farmers.

→ Jallikattu is a tradition which gives a chance to the farmers to display their strong bulls, their affection towards the cattle and is a chance for them to find out the most potent bull to breed with their cows.

Who are supporting it?

The peaceful protest has got support from many Tamilians and several celebrities. In fact, a massive protest was organised at Marina Beach recently wherein several youngsters took part. Celebrities who have come in support of the protest and Jallikattu include musical genius A R Rehman, chess champion Vishwanathan Anand, cricketer R Ashwin, actors Mahesh Babu, Vijay, Suriya, among many others.