There had been a constant disappointment among Tamilians since the Supreme Court, on May 2014 had passed the judgement in favour of the Animal Welfare Board of India and PETA, directing that bulls must not be used for certain sports like jallikattu, bullfights, and races, thereby putting an effective ban on Jallikattu. But in recent times, after the people of Tamil Nadu, citing tradition and culture, organised massive protest, the Narendra Modi-led centre approved the TN state government to pass an ordinance to allow Jallikattu. And since the permission to organise the bull-taming sports had been passed, there had already been reports of two deaths in the state. While the controversy, the ban and the lift of ban on Jallikattu still stay on focus, Karnataka farmers and politicians have come up with their own protest, this time fighting for the permission of Kambala, a buffalo race. Post a case filed by animal welfare organisation PETA, Kambala had been banned by the High Court on November 2016. And as other states also pose threats to protest for their own ‘cruel’ traditions, like Maharashtra’s bullock cart race during the Ganesh Chaturthi, Assam’s bulbul fighting during Bihu, Andhra Pradesh’s infamous cock fights, lets take a look at what ‘Jallikattu’ and ‘kambala’ are:
Over more than thousand years, ‘Jallikattu’, also known as ‘Eruthazhuvuthal’ in Tamil, had been practised 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 organisers 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.
Mostly organized at rural Karnataka, Kambala is a bull racing game mostly played in the slushy paddy fields of the state. However the sports came under the heat of criticism by animal wefare organisations, because of the whip used on the animals and it had been banned following the apex court’s directives in 2014. But, while in Jallikattu a group of people try to stop the bull forcefully to win, Kambala relates just a race between the bulls.