The festival of Pongal is right around the corner, and as per the norms, Jallikattu or Eruthazhuvuthal has once again made to news. This traditional bull-taming sport was banned by the Supreme Court of India in 2014 citing animal cruelty. The sport is an annual event where people try to tame and hug the bull and has been a part of traditional celebrations of the four-day harvest festival, Pongal. The state and the central government have been in favour of conducting the event. However, the Supreme Court banned the event after a petition by PETA.
Meaning of Jallikattu
The name Jallikattu has two components, Jalli also known as ‘salli’ or ‘kasu’, which translates into coins, and Kattu which means bundle or pouch. This is an indication to a yellow pouch of coins, which is tied to the bull’s horn. The sport is also called as Eruthazhuvuthal, which means ‘hugging the bull’.
History of Jallikattu
Jallikattu has been in a traditional practice since 400-100 B.C. and was traditionally a part of finding a strong groom. The person who successfully tamed the bull would get to marry the maiden. The sport was played by the ancient Mayor or Yadava in the ancient Tamil country and later evolved to be a sport played to display their strength and to win prize money. The customary sport is played during Pongal as a way to include Lord Muniswara.
What is the Jallikattu Bull-Taming Event?
The sport which is played on the third day of Pongal has a natively reared bull being left free in an arena. Groups of people enter this arena and have to try and tame the bull with bare hands. The participants try to do this by holding the bull by its tail or horns. The bulls are specially prepared for this events by various farmers. The bulls are often taken for swims to strengthen its legs, and various measures are taken to make the bull strong and healthy.
Controversy Around Jallikattu
The event has been supported and promoted by the majority of the people including the state government, the centre as well as famous actors like Kamal Haasan. However, PETA India raised concerns that the sport was causing injuries to the animal and was inhuman. This event has also caused various injuries to the participants and sometimes has claimed lives of the people. PETA had been protesting against the sport since 2004 and finally the Supreme Court of India passed a verdict banning the festival in 2014.