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With Pongal just a few days away, the clamour for revoking the popular bull-taming sport called Jallikattu is gaining momentum by the day. Lovers of the sport have flooded social media with messages rooting for the ancient sport. For the uninitiated here's all you need to know about the history of the sport, the controversy surrounding it and the views of people.
Origins Of The Sport:
The bull taming sport dates back to the Indus Valley civilisation, back when people fought against raging bulls to prove their physical strength. At a remote Karikkiyur village in the Nilgiri district of Tamil Nadu, there are ancient paintings which depict men chasing bulls. While initially, the sport was a mere display of strength, it gradually transformed into a harvest festival.
How Is It Played?
"Jalli/salli means 'coins', and kattu is 'tied", the sport essentially had a bag of coins tied on the bull's hump and if the man fighting it was successful in taming the animal, it was all his. This aspect however is no longer a part of the game nowadays, it is played more as a tradition and recreation, a rather risky source of entertainment.
The sport also called Eruthazhuvuthal or Manju virattu, have participants who are usually in their twenties. The main challenge lies in taming the bull with bare hands and hanging to its hump. The sport is similar to the one played in Spain, the only difference being, the animal is not killed in Jallikuttu. The bulls are specially bred for this sport in Tamil Nadu.
The sport also called Eruthazhuvuthal or Manju virattu, have participants who are usually in their twenties. The main challenge lies in taming the bull with bare hands and hanging to it’s hump. The sport is similar to the one played in Spain, the only difference being, the animal is not killed in Jallikuttu. The bulls are specially bred for this sport in Tamil Nadu.
Banning the sport
The main reason over the uproar was that the blood sport resulted in too many casualties and injuries. According to a leading daily, from 2010 to 2014, there were approximately 1,100 injuries and 17 deaths and more than 200 deaths past two decades.
Back in 2011, the Supreme Court scraped the sport, on the basis that the practice was an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to the Animals Act. Many animal rights organisations like PETA ,Compassion Unlimited plus Action (CUPA), People For Animal rallied against the sport. According to reports the court subsequently issued a stay order and in 2014 the Bench declared that, “bulls cannot be allowed as performing animals, either for Jallikattu events or bullock-cart races in the state of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra or elsewhere in the country.”
Religious and Political Hue And Cry
Banning of the sport resulted in a tug of war between heritage politics and animal rights activists. The ban abounds arguments that try to weigh the hypocrisy behind the ban. More recently, Kamal Hassan said that if animal cruelty is the rationale behind banning Jallikattu, then “ban Biryani also”.
Given the growing clamour for bringing back the sport, Chief Minister O Panneerselvam wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying "considering the groundswell of sentiment and support for the conduct of Jallikattu all over Tamil Nadu, this is an issue on which the government of India must act with maximum despatch."