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Jallikattu (or sallikkattu), also known as eru thazhuvuthal and manju virattu[2], is a traditional spectacle in which a Bos indicus bull, such as the Pulikulam[3] or Kangayam breeds,[4] is released into a crowd of people, and multiple human participants attempt to grab the large hump on the bull's back with both arms and hang on to it while the bull attempts to escape. Participants hold the hump for as long as possible, attempting to bring the bull to a stop. In some cases, participants must ride long enough to remove flags on the bull's horns.[5][6]

Jallikattu
Federation of India Animal Protection Agencies
A youth trying to take control of a bull in Jallikattu at Alanganallur.
Nicknames Eru thazhuvuthal, Manju virattu
First played 400-100 BC[1]
Characteristics
Mixed gender No
Type Traditional sport
Venue Open ground
Presence
Country or region Tamil Nadu, India
Olympic No
Paralympic No

Jallikattu is typically practised in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations on Mattu Pongal day, which occurs annually in January.

Contents

EtymologyEdit

Ancient Tamil Sangams described the practice as Yeru thazhuvuthal (Tamil: ஏறு தழுவுதல்), literally "bull embracing".[7] The modern term Jallikattu (ஜல்லிக்கட்டு) or Sallikattu (சல்லிக்கட்டு) is derived from salli (coins) and kattu (package), which refers to a prize of coins that are tied to the bull's horns and that participants attempt to retrieve.[8] Manju virattu (மஞ்சு விரட்டு) literally means "bull chasing".

HistoryEdit

 
An inscription on Eru thazhuvuthal at Government museum in Tamil Nadu.

Jallikattu has been known to be practiced during the Tamil classical period (400-100 BC).[1][9] It was common among the ancient people Aayars who lived in the ‘Mullai’ geographical division of the ancient Tamil country.[7][10] Later, it became a platform for display of bravery and prize money was introduced for participation encouragement. A seal from the Indus Valley Civilization depicting the practice is preserved in the National Museum, New Delhi.[11] A cave painting in white kaolin discovered near Madurai depicting a lone man trying to control a bull is estimated to be about 2,500 years old.[12]

Variants and rulesEdit

Some variants include:[13]

  • Vadi manjuviraṭṭu: This is the most common category of Jallikattu. The bull is released from a closed space (vadi vasal) and the contestants attempt to wrap their arms or hands around the hump of the bull and hold on to it to win the award. Only one person is allowed to attempt at a time. This variant is most common in the districts of Madurai, Thanjavur, and Salem.
  • Vēli viraṭṭu: In this variant the approach is slightly different as the bull is directly released into open ground. The rules are the same as that of vadi majuviraṭṭu. This is a popular variant in the districts of Sivagangai and Madurai.
  • Vaṭam manjuviraṭṭu: In this variant, the bull is tied with a 15 m (49 ft) rope (vatam means "rope" in Tamil). There are no other physical restrictions for the bull and hence it can move freely anywhere. The maximum time period given is 30 minutes. A team of seven to nine members can attempt to seal[clarification needed] the bull.

Bulls enter the competition area through a gate called the vadi vasal. Typically, participants must only hold onto the bull's hump, and in some variations they are disqualified if they hold onto the bull's neck, horns or tail. There may be several goals to the game depending on region. In some versions, contestants must either hold the bulls hump for 30 seconds or for 15 metres (49 ft).[14] If the contestant is thrown by the bull or falls, they lose. Some variations only allow for one contestant. If two people grab the hump, then neither person wins.[15]

BreedingEdit

Bos indicus bulls are bred specifically by people of the village for the event. Bulls that are able to participate successfully in the Jallikattu event are used as studs for breeding. These bulls also fetch higher prices in the markets.[16]

Training and preparationEdit

 
Bull being prepared for Jallikattu.

PreparationEdit

With the introduction of the Jallikattu Regulation Act - 2009,[17] by the Tamil Nadu legislative, the following activities were done in preparation of the event:

  1. A written permission is obtained from the respective collector, thirty days prior to conduct of event along with notification of the event location.
  2. The arena and the way through which the bulls pass through is double-barricaded, in order to avoid injuries to the spectators and by-standers who may be permitted to remain within the barricades.
  3. The necessary gallery areas are built up along the double barricades.
  4. The necessary permissions are obtained from the collector for the participants and the bulls fifteen days prior.
  5. Final preparation before the event include a complete testing by the authorities of the Animal Husbandry Department, to ensure that performance enhancement drugs, liquor or other irritants are not used on the bulls.
  6. Ancient days practice of Jallikattu leads to design the professional game Kabaddi, where riders are consider as bull. Playing Kabbadi improves defenders to attention towards bull in Jallikattu field.

ControversyEdit

Animal welfare concerns are related to the handling of the bulls before they are released and also during competitor's attempts to subdue the bull.

Practices before the bull is released include prodding the bull with sharp sticks or scythes, extreme bending of the tail which can fracture the vertebrae, and biting of the bull's tail. There are also reports of the bulls being forced to drink alcohol to disorient them, or chilli peppers being rubbed in their eyes to aggravate the bull.[18]

During attempts to subdue the bull, they are stabbed by various implements such as knives or sticks, punched, jumped on and dragged to the ground. In variants in which the bull is not enclosed, they may run into traffic or other dangerous places, sometimes resulting in broken bones or death.[19][20] Protestors claims that Jallikattu is promoted as bull taming, however, others suggest it exploits the bull's natural nervousness as prey animals by deliberately placing them in a terrifying situation in which they are forced to run away from the competitors which they perceive as predators and the practice effectively involves catching a terrified animal.[21] Along with human injuries and fatalities, bulls themselves sometimes sustain injuries or die, which people may interpret as a bad omen for the village.

An investigation by the Animal Welfare Board of India concluded that "jallikattu is inherently cruel to animals".[22][23]

Animal welfare organisations, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations(FIAPO)[24] and PETA India have protested against the practice.[25][26]

Ban, protests and authorizationEdit

 
Anti-ban protesters at Marina beach, January 2017.

The Animal Welfare Board of India filed a case in the Supreme Court of India for an outright ban on Jallikattu because of the cruelty to animals and the threat to public safety involved.

On 27 November 2010, the Supreme Court permitted the Government of Tamil Nadu to allow Jallikattu for five months in a year and directed the District Collectors to make sure that the animals that participate in Jallikattu are registered to the Animal Welfare Board and in return the Board would send its representative to monitor the event.[27] The Government of Tamil Nadu ordered that 2 lakh (US$3,100) be deposited by the organizers in case of an accident or injury during the event and enacted a rule to allow a team of veterinarians be present at the venue for certifying the bulls for participation in the event and to provide treatment for bulls that get injured.[27]

The Ministry of Environment and Forests issued a notification in 2011 that banned the use of bulls as performing animals, thereby banning the event[28][29] But the practice continued to be held under Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act No 27 of 2009.[30] On 7 May 2014, the Supreme Court of India struck down the state law and banned Jallikattu altogether.[29][31] The Supreme Court noted that any flouting of the ban should result in penalties for cruelty to animals under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.[28][32] The court also asked the Government of India to amend the law on preventing cruelty to animals to bring bulls within its ambit. The Supreme Court also ruled that cruelty is inherent in these events, as bulls are not anatomically suited for such activities and making them participate is subjecting them to unnecessary pain and suffering, so such events were outlawed.[33][34]

On 8 January 2016, the Ministry of Environment and Forests permitted the continuation of the tradition under certain conditions, effectively ending the ban.[35][36][37] However, on 14 January 2016, the Supreme Court of India issued a stay on this order, upholding the ban, after a petition filed by the Animal Welfare Board of India and PETA India, leading to protests all over Tamil Nadu.[38] The Supreme Court refused to review its decision on 26 July 2016.[39]

On 16 January 2016, the World Youth Organization (WYO) protested at Chennai against the stay on the order overturning ban on conducting Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu. The WYO also demanded a ban on PETA in India.[40][41]

On 8 January 2017, several hundreds of protesters conducted a rally at Chennai Marina opposing the ban on Jallikattu.[42] The participants walked from the lighthouse to the labour statue bearing posters saying ‘save Jallikattu'.[43][44] A few churches openly conducted prayer mass and rally against the Supreme Court ruling.[45] Following the protests at Chennai, many students started rallies in various towns of Tamil Nadu.

After hearing the petitions which were led by the Animal Welfare Board of India challenging central government's notification,[46] the Supreme Court of India on 12 January ordered a stay, issued notices to the central government and the government of Tamil Nadu[47][48][49] and later refused to lift the stay.[50] Numerous Jallikattu events were held across Tamil Nadu in protest of the ban, and hundreds of participants were detained by police in response.[51][52] The Supreme Court has agreed to delay its verdict on Jallikattu for a week following the Centre's request that doing so would avoid unrest.

Due to these protests, on 21 January 2017, the Governor of Tamil Nadu issued a new ordinance that authorized the continuation of jallikattu events.[53] On 23 January 2017 the Tamil Nadu legislature passed a bi-partisan bill, with the accession of the Prime Minister, exempting jallikattu from the Prevention of Cruelity to Animals Act (1960).[54][55] The first legal jallikattu under this exemption is scheduled on 1 February in Alanganallur, Madurai district.[56]

The legal situation surrounding jallikattu is as yet not clearly resolved. Some, such as ex Ministry of External Affairs cabinet minister Salman Khurshid, have stated that the matter will only be truly resolved if the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act is amended as local ordinances and state laws cannot trump Indian federal law.[57] According to The Hindu, many other Indian legal experts agreed with Khurshid's view, as federal laws such as the PCA are always more powerful than state laws, and in that respect the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act of 2017 is not much different from the state law overturned in 2009.[58] For its part, PETA India has said that it will "study" the new ordinance, and has not ruled out a challenge to the new law on the same grounds as it challenged the 2009 law.[59] On Jan 25, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) started the legal process towards another ban by formally challenging the new law before the Supreme Court,[58][60] but they withdrew the petition on Jan 26.[61] According to the AWBI's acting chairperson, AWBI does not plan to re-file the petition, but he claimed no knowledge of what other organizations, such as PETA, may do.[61]

In popular cultureEdit

Jalikattu is often shown in Tamil cinema where the hero tames the bull to prove his gallantry.[62] Some of the popular movies include:

Popular cinema, an integral part of the modern social and political life of Tamil Nadu, has often portrayed jallikattu as a symbol of masculinity, and social status. And there are instances of the portrayal running as a counter-narrative, wherein a subaltern hero tames an overlord's bull and turns it into a challenge to power and authority.[68] In films such as Cheran Pandian, Rajakumaran and Murattukaalai, the conflict between the hero and the villain is portrayed through jallikattu, during which the owner whose bull loses shoots the bull.[69] In Mannvasanai, the heroine's father declares that whoever tames the bull is eligible to marry his daughter, but, commits suicide after killing his bull - when an outsider from a nearby village tames his bull & lays claim to his daughter as the prize.[68] In Virumaandi the hero who returns from Singapore tames the bull, which means that his masculinity and traditional roots are intact - despite going to a foreign land.[68] In Thaikupin Tharam, jallikattu is built into the film's climax, and it helps the hero prove he is macho and win his love interest.[70]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b François Gautier. A Western Journalist on India: The Ferengi's Columns. 
  2. ^ Ramakrishnan, T. "Governor clears ordinance on ‘jallikattu’". The Hindu. Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
  3. ^ Valerie Porter; Lawrence Alderson; Stephen J.G. Hall; D. Phillip Sponenberg. Mason's World Encyclopedia of Livestock Breeds and Breeding, 2 Volume Pack. CAB International. p. 275. 
  4. ^ Ramesh, C.; Mariayyah, P.; Senthilkumar, A.; Rajendran, K. (2014). "A Study of Sports and Recreational Activities of Pura Village People and their Attitude Towards these Activities". Journal of Recent Research and Applied Studies. 1 (7): 89–94. 
  5. ^ Anugula, Himakiran. "Banning Jallikattu Will Decimate India's Indigenous Cattle Breeds – The Wire". Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  6. ^ "What is Jallikattu? - This 2,000-year-old sport is making news in India. Here's why – The Economic Times". Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  7. ^ a b "Buzzing with bull talk". The Hindu. 8 January 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "Politics of Pongal: Outrage over Jallikattu but not over drought in Tamil Nadu". 14 January 2017. 
  9. ^ Grushkin, Daniel (22 March 2007). "Fearless Boys with Bulls in Avaniapuram". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 July 2008. The ritual dates back as far as 2,000 years... 
  10. ^ "Who said bullfighting is cruel?". Firstpost. 12 January 2012. 
  11. ^ T. Subramaniam (13 January 2008). "Bull-baiting of yore". The Hindu. Retrieved 12 January 2017. 
  12. ^ "Bull chasing, an ancient Tamil tradition". The Hindu. Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  13. ^ "An ancient tradition sport". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 26 June 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  14. ^ http://newsable.asianetnews.tv/south/rules-of-jallikattu-ban-supreme-court-pongal-without-bull-taming-tamil-nadu-jallikattu
  15. ^ "Jallikattu: What are the rules of the game". Outlook. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  16. ^ Natarajan, Swaminathan (19 July 2016). "Jallikattu: Why India bullfighting ban 'threatens native breeds'". BBC News. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  17. ^ "Laws of India  : The Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009". www.lawsofindia.org. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  18. ^ Ray, A. (19 Jan 2017). "Jallikattu cheat sheet: 10 things you should know about the bull-taming sport". Economic Times. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  19. ^ Natarajan, S. (19 July 2016). "Jallikattu: Why India bullfighting ban 'threatens native breeds'". BBC News. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
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  24. ^ "Save the bulls, support the ban". FIAPO. Retrieved 15 January 2016. 
  25. ^ PTI. "PETA: Jallikattu stay ‘partial victory’ for bulls". The Hindu. Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
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  27. ^ a b "1 killed in Jalikattu". sify.com. 16 January 2011. 
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  44. ^ Hindu, The (18 January 2017). "Protest on Marina brings traffic to a standstill". The Hindu. Retrieved 19 January 2017. 
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  56. ^ "Jallikattu Row: Matter could still go to Supreme Court and we could get adverse decision, says Salman Khurshid". The Financial Express. 2017-01-21. Retrieved 2017-01-21. 
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  61. ^ a b c "Rajni, Kamal did it". Behindwoods. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  62. ^ "5 best jallikattu scenes from Tamil films, from Murattu Kaalai to Virumaandi". 
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  66. ^ "Catching a sport by its horns". 
  67. ^ a b c "In films, jallikattu showcases masculinity". 
  68. ^ "Jallikattu: Power play by caste bigwigs in villages". 
  69. ^ "How films have influenced Tamil Nadu to embrace Jallikattu". 

External linksEdit