Jallikattu, the ancient form of bull taming in Tamil Nadu that has been in practice for more than two millennia now is in news once again. The issue has gained importance as the Supreme Court has refused to lift the ban on Jallikattu.
On the other hand, the state government has said that it plans to allow the traditional bull fight or what is termed as bull embracing in rural areas. There are indications that the issue will take an increasingly confrontational outlook in the days to come. Jallikattu is performed during Pongal celebrations and is an integral part of the most celebrated festival in the state.
What is actually Jallikattu?
Jallikattu that is also called by many people Eruthazhuvuthal is a bull taming sport that also becomes fatal on many occasions. It is usually organized on Maatu Pongal day during Pongal. Bulls are bred specifically by people of the village for the event and attended mainly by many villages’ temple bulls. According to experts, the term Jallikattu is derived from the term calli kacu (coins) and kattu (meaning a package) tied to the horns of the bulls as the prize money. One of the oldest blood sport, Jalllikattu is held in the villages of Tamil Nadu as a part of the village festival
Why it has become controversial?
Basically the issue of animal rights came in the picture to make the sport controversial. The fact that many a times it turns fatal and causes injuries and death not just to people involved in the game, but also spectators also goes against Jallikattu.
The number of injuries have been very high and data suggests that \from 2010 to 2014, there were approximately 1,100 injuries and 17 deaths as a result of Jallikattu events. Over 200 people have died from the blood sport over the past two decades. The court held that use of bulls in such events severely harmed the animals and constituted an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to the Animals Act.
What did the SC say about Jallikattu?
The Supreme Court came in the picture when animal rights approached the apex court contending that the Central government’s notification allowing it was illegal. Following this, a bench led by Justice Dipak Misra issued notices to Centre and all state governments on issues raised by the organisations relating to use of animals for sports and other performances and sought replies within four weeks. The bench said that in view of contentions raised, there has to be an interim order staying ‘Jallikattu’ till the points of law are decided by the apex court
Why it is so emotional issue
Besides being very closely associated with the local traditions, it has become 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.
A report in The Hindu says, “When kings became patrons of jallikattu, the sport was organised as a post-harvest peace time activity to engage the youth…The coveted prize in the form of a bride transformed into coins and later into household items such as almirah, stainless steel utensils, cots and mopeds…In 2014, when the last jallikattu was organised in Alanganallur, a two-wheeler company offered prizes for the ‘bull of the match’ and ‘tamer of the match.’
On what grounds Supreme Court banned it
While giving its judgment, the court called the practice to be an offence under the law. The court held that use of bulls in such events severely harmed the animals and constituted an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to the Animals Act.