What is Jallikattu? When did this festival start? What is the controversy around Jallikattu? All you need to know about the bull-taming sport

By: | Updated: January 11, 2017 11:52 AM

The bull-taming sports is usually played during the harvesting festival of the state, Pongal, before which hundreds of bulls are specifically identified, trained and nourished for the sporting event.

Putting a ban on 'Jallikattu', the apex court order included bulls in the list of animals that 'shall not be exhibited or trained as performing animal'. (PTI)Putting a ban on ‘Jallikattu’, the apex court order included bulls in the list of animals that ‘shall not be exhibited or trained as performing animal’. (PTI)

Amid heated controversies on the ban of ‘Jallikattu’ and several appeals from ardent Tamilians, seeking permission for a go ahead to the ‘bull fighting’ sports during the Pongal festival in the state, ruling AIADMK delegations from Tamil Nadu will be meeting the Prime Minister to seek center’s support on the matter. And as the center had today clarified that they will only take a stand after the apex court give its judgement on the sentiments of the society on ‘Jallikattu’, lets take a looks at what ‘Jallikattu’ actually is, why there is a huge sentiment of Tamilians attached with the sports and why the Supreme Court stands strong on its decision to ban it.

Over more than thousand years, ‘Jallikattu’, also known as ‘Eruthazhuvuthal’ in Tamil, had been practiced in Tamil Nadu. The bull-taming sports is usually played during the harvesting festival of the state, Pongal, before which hundreds of bulls are specifically identified, trained and nourished for the sporting event, by organizers of Jallikattu and bullock-cart race, as a traditional practice associated with village life, mostly in the southern districts of the state. As part of the tradition, after the event weak bulls were used for agricultural purposes, while the stronger ones were used to breed cows, so that the wild nature of the bulls were inherited in the next generation.

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However, citing animal welfare issues, the Supreme Court outlawed the traditional bull-taming sport in 2011 and maintained its stand till 2016. Putting a ban on ‘Jallikattu’, the apex court order included bulls in the list of animals that ‘shall not be exhibited or trained as performing animal’. The Supreme Court, in May 2014, had also clarified 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.”

As Tamilians kept insisting the central government and the Supreme Court for the permission to perform the traditional practice during the Pongals, fresh controversies erupted as the Environment Ministry, last week, gave a go ahead to the sport and notified the permit for the sports during the Pongal celebration in the state. Following the center’s decision seeking to overturn the SC ban, environmentalists and animal welfare groups had on Monday moved to the Supreme Court for an immediate hearing on the matter. Citing the large number of bulls getting severely injured during the traditional sports, animal welfare groups had been fighting for the ban on Jallikattu since long.

However, organizers and supporters of Jallikattu argue that the sports, being a tradition in the state and causing less pain to the animals, must be regulated than be completely prohibited.

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