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  • Jallikattu is a bull taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations on Mattu Pongal day.

  • Jallikattu is derived from the words ‘calli’ (coins) and ‘kattu’ (tie), which means a bundle of coins is tied to the bull’s horns. In older times, the tamer sought to remove this bundle from the animal’s head to win gold or silver.

  • The southern parts of Tamil Nadu witness bull-taming the most, with Alanganallur near Madurai hosting the largest and most famous of these events.


  • Background
  • Factors against the ban
  • Arguments favouring the ban
  • View of SC
  • What can government do?
  • International experience
  • Way ahead

Factors against the ban

  • Jallikattu is an ancient sport which has continued since colonial times. So it is an ancient tradition which should be preserved and not banned.
  • In Jallikattu, the objective is to obtain the ‘Jallikattu’ a pouch which contains the reward coins called ‘Jalli’ tied to the horns of the bulls. While the players are not allowed to carry weapons of any kind or wear protective gears, the bulls on the other hand will not have nose rings or ropes.
  • Plus, they’re equipped with a pair of sharp horns which can gore a human within seconds. So it’s actually the bull which has the upper hand in this match.
  • Jallikattu is what’s keeping the native breed of cows from going extinct, according to some local people which is a huge problem for western cattle industry.

Arguments favouring the ban

  • During Jallikattu, bulls are purposefully scared and petrified and then made to run across the crowd, destroying anything that would come in their way. Various cruel means are adopted to scare and anger the bull like pinching, nailing, stabbing with sticks that have nails at the edges, twisting their tails and even forcefully making them drink alcohol and other drugs. The ropes around their nose are painfully yanked and then they are dragged into the crowd of people who further anger the bull.
  • According to the documents by PETA, these bulls also break their bones in order to escape from the crowd continuously trying to toture them. Casualty and death of humans are also alarmingly high during this game.
  • What started as a simple act of bravado has become an act of cruelty towards animals.
  • The bulls are kept in the waiting area for hours, subjecting it to the scorching sun. The bulls used in the sport are also denied food and water.
  • Due to this sport, innumerable human lives, both of the participants and the audience, have also been lost, as the bulls try to flee from the pain.

View of SC

  • Supreme court in 2014 banned the sport jallikattu as it violates provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA) and militates the constitutional duty of treating animals with compassion, Article 51A (g).
  • It also reiterated the expansive reading it had given in the past, to Article 21 (Right to Life), which prohibits any disturbance to the environment, including animals, considered essential for human life.

What can government do?

The Government must find alternate methods to continue it without hurting the animal or people. Following are some of the alternatives:

  1. Follow the famous Spanish bullfighting example where measures taken to avoid lethal damage
  2. Put effective protection (barricades, speaker announcements, clear demarcation) so that people are not hurt
  3. Create awareness regarding apathy faced by animals. Sports personalities, film stars, eminent jurists can come forward

International experience

  • The tradition of bullfighting in Spain is cited to legitimise the conduct of Jallikattu and present it as a viable tourist attraction.
  • It is significant that the Spanish state of Catalonia banned the sport in 2012 after a prolonged ‘culture versus rights’ debate.
  • In 2002, Germany took animal rights to a new level by giving animals constitutional protection.

Way ahead

  • Those who want the sport to be legalised have called for an amendment to the PCA Act and measures to revoke the 2011 notification of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) which barred the use of bulls as performing animals.
  • Trying to allow an event that legitimises cruelty to animals would be a direct insult to the carefully reasoned writ of the Supreme Court, a complete negation of the PCA Act and its objectives, and would take the country back by a few steps in the crucial area of Right to Life.

Any doubts?

  1. Profile photo of Meena Vaidya Meena Vaidya

    Who cares about the people. Bulls do not deserve to be hurt

  2. Profile photo of Palani A Palani A

    The reason why many of us oppose the total ban on Jallikattu is we people almost abandoned agriculture. we are not close with bulls, cow, etc. We see it as humanity rather than its capability. We say ‘I love pets & grow a dog at home’. But we drift away street dog without feeding them or even kill them. Instead of correcting the spells we totally delete the story itself. We people talk about pollution, environment, future generation, and so on. We act against the talk. We all think everything for others only not for me.

  3. Profile photo of aakriti singh aakriti singh

    WOW, i am glad that we always favour the constitution! constitution is foremost!

  4. Profile photo of Mehul Chaturvedi Mehul Chaturvedi

    Ok… So one can cage, kill and eat them but cannot take them for festivals… Way to go hypocrite India… Anyways thanks for article… Imp. For exams purpose..

  5. Profile photo of

    lets ban bogi festival(litting wood at mornings on first day of sankranthi) bcuz its adding too much particles,green house gases. lets ban hindu marriages its too expensive and time consuming. i dont suggest cruelty to animals but its abrupt ban may cause religious and regional turmoil.they should have given guidelines regarding how to conduct and what should avoid. it has potential of attracting tourism too.

    1. Profile photo of Palani A Palani A

      Hindu marriage traditions actually gathers or make contact with almost all society groups to complete the marriage. It indirectly gives employment to almost all sector. Hence its time consuming & costly.

  6. Profile photo of Pushkar singh Pushkar singh

    i am respecting their tradition, culture and sentiments but harming any animal in the name of tradition is not right . animal should be protected such kind of pain and distress .

  7. Profile photo of Pushkar singh Pushkar singh

    here, sc struck down the gov decision by putting ban on jallikattu by saying that it is cruelty against the animals as petition filed by the animal welfare CM said people had already made all arrangements for that and it would be against the sentiments of the people by not allowing it

  8. Profile photo of Simran Bains Simran Bains

    Errmm. Now that SC has issued a stay over Jallikattu, lets see how far it goes in protecting animal rights in future as well!

  9. Profile photo of Paras Kaushal Paras Kaushal

    I agree, with supreme court’s decision. The stay was a wise decision it dosn’t matter if it is related to celebration or something, as per law torturing animal and animal cruelty is not tolerated.

  10. Profile photo of Mahendar Surya Mahendar Surya

    I too support with SC’s stay on jallikattu, ill treating animals in the name of culture is not an appreciable thing. In the same way respecting and protecting culture and tradition is also important, so it shouldn’t be banned, but care should be taken that animals not to be harmed in anyways possible, under police surveillance will be fine. this is purely my opinion.

  11. Profile photo of Satyajeet Panchal Satyajeet Panchal

    Your back to basics are very much help for me as a beginner to grasp basic and essential knowledge. Please make it to continue for forever and increase their quality and quantity if it is possible for you to.

    1. Profile photo of Root Root

      back2basics are also covered in the civilsdaily app as and when the topics are covered in the news. Keep up with them. We understand their value in helping you revise the static GS.

  12. Profile photo of Rohit Pande Rohit Pande

    Let’s discuss this over here. The whole topic of bans and mix and match of culture & modern ethos.

  13. Profile photo of Rahul Kumar Dubey Rahul Kumar Dubey

    Jallikattu, the popular bull “taming” sport conducted every year during the “Pongal season” in Tamil Nadu, is a violent and irrational risk-taking endeavour, requiring the taming of a raging bull at the risk of even fatal injury and even death in certain cases. Jallikattu might be a popular tradition having evolved from a single man-bull combat in the past to the random spectacle that it is today, but that it is both irrational and against animal rights is beyond question.
    It is unfortunate, that center on the urge of Tamilnadu state government has allowed the conduct of jallikatu though with the permission of local authorities siting traditional belief systems and customs.
    It would have been appropriate for the Tamil Nadu government to absorb this reasoning given by supreme court that is considering these customary laws put the well-being of participants and animals at disproportionate risk and explain it to rural youth who have complained about the loss of their traditional “sport”.
    The festive atmosphere during Pongal and the traditions of community bonding and competition can still be easily retained without the irrational practice of jallikattu.

  14. Profile photo of Simran Bains Simran Bains

    Lifting the ban from jallikattu is indeed a good step respecting the old traditional sport and sentiments attached with it.
    With this, ill-practices like applying chilly powder, poking bulls with sharp weapons will reduce. Now more safety will be ensured both for the animals and tamers.
    But then,yeah, one community gets happy with this ban being lifted and other surely getting unhappy.
    Jallikattu is traditional, old ritual, attached with sentiments sport. And beef is banned but beef’s export has increased rapidly.
    No doubt, BJP has placed itself in the good books of tamilians but has big time disappointed one section of the society ..!

    1. Profile photo of Ankur Yarazarvi Ankur Yarazarvi

      The balance you are citing in here is acceptable. But how do we tackle “other” ancient (150yr) traditions like camel slaughter?

      1. Profile photo of Simran Bains Simran Bains

        Ya that’s the main issue. In the name of ‘tradition’ ‘custom’ ‘culture’ atrocities are done against animals. Jallikattu is culturally twined with the ppl, but recent malpractices raise the concerns. But jallikattu is not the only custom.. Many more.. Like yulin of china, gadhimai of Nepal (50 lac animals slaughtered hence came the ban on gadhimai)
        My point is, if a policy to prevent animal slaughter is followed then it should be consistent. And not just keeping upcoming elections in mind or any particular section.

        When we talk of jallikattu, I accept bulls are not killed ( no large scale slaughtering of bulls have come forward) but does raise many questions on animal welfare. Policies laws and regulations shoud be uniform and consistent.

  15. Profile photo of Devesh Tiwari Devesh Tiwari

    To allow Jallikattu in T.N was good decision by central government , its related to ancient tradition !
    it encourages breeding of bulls,Banning of sport means that there will be no incentive to raise the bull , because of these kind of festivals they maintain healthy diet of bulls so that animal can perform good in sports , is it animal cruelty?? definitely not ! if these festivals will be banned then only poor farmers (those who cant effort tractor)will raise bulls and in oldage they will sell bulls to slaughter houses ! i dont know where those people run when millions of goats are being killed in the name of tradition or every day many chickens are killed for food and extreme level of cruelty is performed while extracting eggs by playing with their process of natural reproductive system !
    there should be enforcement of common guidelines, one community will be exempted then another will demand for it , it create tensions between communities !

    1. Profile photo of Ankur Yarazarvi Ankur Yarazarvi

      I usually like your comments but I don’t think bringing in chicken was a good idea, felt like you are preaching vegetarianism.
      Choice of food and killing plants or animals is a completely different debate.

      1. Profile photo of Devesh Tiwari Devesh Tiwari

        its natural to bring chicken in the discussion of “animal cruelty” by any vegetarian ! still i apologize if you felt bad !
        and now topic has already ended by supreme court by keeping ban on jallikatu ! ….. but i wont be surprise if center comes up with ordinance ! they should be !

        1. Profile photo of Ankur Yarazarvi Ankur Yarazarvi

          Killing animals or plants for consumption is a NECESSITY, you have to kill a Living Being to survive. The old tradition that you are defending is something which is being done just “for fun” sakes. There’s a huge difference between the two. One is for survival, the other one just for amusement.

          Please don’t apologise.
          (FYI, I’m a vegan too)

          1. Profile photo of Gaurav Kumar Gaurav Kumar

            This traditional festival is played since Sangam Age. Any data how many bulls have died/tortured?

            Since animal welfare lovers are hailing Jallikatu ban, anyone has courage to openly speak against cow slaughter banned by SC in 2005? It should be level playing field. Isn’t !!

          2. Profile photo of Devesh Tiwari Devesh Tiwari

            yes i agree , noone is demanding BAN on chicken because its a need specially in north east ! i am not Tamilian but i can easily see jallikatu is not only for fun but its also an incentive to raise bulls ! thatswhy i support it! otherwise just like “The great Indian Bustard ” we will have to say goodbye to bulls in next 50-60 years !

      2. Profile photo of Rohit Pande Rohit Pande

        There has been a re-appeal here.

        They argued that the notification calls to ‘regulate’ jallikattu when the apex court judgment has already held that jallikattu is inherently violate of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1960.

        How is this violate of prevention of corruption act?

        1. Profile photo of Dr V Dr V

          It’s prevention of cruelty act,1960. Prevention of corruption act is of 1988 and there’s no corruption angle here .
          U see falling standards of journalism . Both are abbreviated as PCA, illiterate journalist expanding it as prevention of corruption act.
          All hail The Hindu .

          1. Profile photo of Rohit Pande Rohit Pande

            I doubt if they would give an apology. Not unless we point it out coz general junta to waise hi overlook kar degi! Corruption/ cruelty sab ek hi hai…

          2. Profile photo of Ankur Yarazarvi Ankur Yarazarvi

            Look out for an apology tomorrow. That was something! Hilarious.

          3. Profile photo of Rohit Pande Rohit Pande

            Major troll! And this is our revered hindu

        2. Profile photo of Ankur Yarazarvi Ankur Yarazarvi

          Yeah I read that too. Corruption Angle, Can you see it?

          1. Profile photo of Dr V Dr V

            There’s no corruption angle

  16. Profile photo of Anna Menon Anna Menon

    Interesting read justifying the court’s decision:
    Funny how the author thinks he himself has a right to speak on such an issue, and even if there are protections given for the animals, I highly doubt their implementation.

    1. Profile photo of Ankur Yarazarvi Ankur Yarazarvi

      What am I missing here.
      Justifying the court’s decision.??
      So the author was being ironic.??
      Or are you being sarcastic.?

      1. Profile photo of Anna Menon Anna Menon

        I am being sarcastic.

        1. Profile photo of Ankur Yarazarvi Ankur Yarazarvi


    2. Profile photo of Tirth Patel Tirth Patel

      He is MP of BJP

Jallikattu supporters taken into custody

  1. News: Several supporters of jallikattu were taken into preventive custody for allegedly trying to defy a ban on the traditional bull taming sport associated with Pongal festivities
  2. Ban continues: The Supreme Court had recently said it could not give its verdict on Jallikattu before Pongal even as political parties cutting across party lines had demanded from the Centre promulgation of an ordinance to allow the sport


For prelims, know about Jallikattu celebration and Supreme Court’s position on it. For mains, keep animal cruelty v/s heritage or local people’s livelihood issue in mind.


About Jallikattu:

  1. It is also known as Eruthazhuvuthal or Manju virattu
  2. It is a traditional event hugging or embracing the bull held in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations on Maatu Pongal day
  3. Mattu Pongal day falls on the second day of the Tamil month Thai (mid January)
  4. Bulls are bred specifically by people of the village for the event and attended mainly by many villages’ temple bulls (koil kaalai)
  5. A temple bull is like the head of all cattle in a village; special rituals will be performed for this temple bull during important days
  6. During the event, prizes are announced to encourage the youth to participate
  7. After the event, tamed weak bulls are used for domestic activities and agriculture, meanwhile the untamable strong bulls are used for breeding the cows
  8. Thus wild nature of the bulls are inherited to its next generation, even though these country bulls are domesticated a very long time ago
  9. History: Jallikattu has been known to be practiced during the Tamil classical period (400-100 BC)
  10. It was common among the ancient people Aayars (Yadava) who lived in the ‘Mullai’ geographical division of the ancient Tamil country

Recent issue:

  1. Animal activists and PETA India have protested against the practice since 2004
  2. Along with human injuries and fatalities, sometimes bulls themselves sustain injuries which people believe as bad omen for the village
  3. In May 2014, the Supreme Court of India banned the practice, citing animal welfare issues
  4. On 8 January, 2016, the Government of India passed an order exempting Jallikattu from all performances where bulls cannot be used, effectively reversing the ban
  5. However, on 14 January, 2016, the Supreme Court of India upheld its ban on the event, leading to protests all over Tamil Nadu

[op-ed snap] SC declined to review Jallikattu ban

  1. Jallikattu: a popular bull-taming sport held alongside annual harvest festivities in rural Tamil Nadu
  2. A macho sport in which young men demonstrate their valour by pouncing on fleeing bulls
  3. Why banned? Need to prevent cruelty to animals overrides the consideration that conducting the sport was necessary to preserve culture and tradition
  4. The game caused distress and pain to the animals, and led to injuries and occasional fatalities
  5. Cultural and religious significance for Tamil community: Over the years, tradition was kept alive in many villages
  6. This was due to a belief that not conducting jallikattu would invite divine wrath
  7. The court sticks to the stand that it would not allow any cruelty in the name of holding a rural sport

Jallikattu ban: SC dismisses T.N. plea

  1. What: The SC dismissed a review petition filed by Tamil Nadu to review a 2014 apex court judgment banning Jallikattu
  2. Why: The Bench said “taming a bull” to perform in an event runs counter to the concept of welfare of the animal
  3. Animal welfare is the basic foundation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960
  4. The court threw out Tamil Nadu’s argument that the ban affected the fundamental right to religion under Article 25
  5. Previous judgement: In 2014 the SC had banned Jallikattu after declaring it to be an act of “inherent cruelty”

Remember Jallikattu? Here’s what SC replied to another revival appeal

  1. Context: Tamil Nadu argued that if the Spanish Senate can in 2013 find the “far more cruel” sport of bull-fighting a cultural heritage, there is nothing wrong in farmers practising Jallikattu
  2. The State then said that ‘Jalli’ is the name of a ‘Yadav brave man with history dating back to the period of Lord Krishna’
  3. To all such appeals made in the name of ‘age-old tradition’, SC countered with the argument that child marriage too was once an ‘age-old tradition’

Reining In The Bulls

A strictly regulated and independently audited jallikattu where suffering caused to bulls is minimised is the way to go.

  1. Amendment to the statutory rules under PCA, prevention of cruelty to animals act, barred bulls from being “exhibited or trained as performing animal”
  2. To neutralise SC ban, govt allowed Jallikattu & bullock-cart races “practised traditionally under the customs or culture” which supreme court stayed.
  3. Court viewed the PCA act through an “ecocentric” perspective as distinguished from an “anthropocentric” angle.
  4. That this act outlawed “infliction of unnecessary pain and suffering on the animals”
  5. But inclusion of bulls in the category of performing animals is ill-founded.
  6. The other animals in that list are monkeys, bears, lions, panthers and tigers — wild animals that have never been part of the rural, agrarian ecosystem.
  7. Festival can also be protected on grounds that it is an unquestionable part of intangible cultural heritage.

Ban on jallikattu defied

Tension prevailed in Vadavalam village in Pudukottai district as some villagers allegedly pelted the police with stones.

  1. Defying the SC ban on conducting jallikattu, a bull taming sport, organisers in some interior villages went ahead with the event challenging the district administration and police to take action.
  2. In a few places, instead of the bull taming sport, organisers conducted ‘eruthattam’ (bull chase).
  3. The villagers allegedly brought bulls to the local temple under the pretext of offering worship but tried to use them to organise jallikattu.
  4. Officials of the Animal Welfare Board of India said the inaction of authorities in dealing with those who openly defied the court order amounted to contempt of judiciary.

No Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu this year

The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued an interim stay on the Centre’s January 2016 notification allowing Jallikattu and bullock cart races.

  1. The Bench of Justices prima facie agreed with the arguments made by a batch of petitioners, led by Animal Welfare Board of India.
  2. That Jallikattu is “inherently cruel” and bulls cannot be used or tortured as performing animals for human festivity.
  3. A stay on the January 7 notification means that the 2014 SC judgment banning jallikattu will continue to prevail during Pongal starting on January 15.
  4. Admitting the petitions, the Bench gave the TamilNadu Government and the Centre 4 weeks to file affidavits in response to the petitions.

Ministry put pressure on Animal Welfare Board

Pressure was brought to bear upon the Board by the Ministry when it decided to move against the January 7 notification.

  1. Till the SC stayed the Centre’s ‘Pongal gift’ to Tamil Nadu, there were some anxious moments at the Animal Welfare Board of India, which challenged the Ministry’s decision to allow jallikattu.
  2. Lawyers for the Animal Welfare Board of India had fought for the cause of protecting the bulls pro bono.
  3. The Board members are appointed for 3 years and it has provision for 6 MPs from Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha.
  4. The SC agreed to hear a batch of petitions moved by the Board seeking to quash the January 7 notification issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests allowing jallikattu.

Let’s know about Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI)?

  1. The AWBI is a statutory advisory body advising the Government of India on animal welfare laws, and promotes animal welfare in the country of India.
  2. It was established under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,1960.
  3. It provides grants to Animal Welfare Organisations and considers itself the face of the animal welfare movement.
  4. Well-known humanitarian Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale was instrumental in setting up the board and was its first chair.

SC to hear Animal Welfare Board’s petition challenging jallikattu order

A bench led by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur agreed to hear the petitions on an urgent basis on January 12.

  1. The SC on Monday agreed to hear on January 12 a batch of petitions led by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI).
  2. Seeking to quash a January 7, 2016 notification issued by the MoEF, allowing the exhibition and use of bulls as performing animals for jallikattu and bullock-cart races.
  3. The petitions contended that the Centre cannot legalise a sport inherently causing pain and distress to dumb animals.
  4. By merely saying that bulls used for jallikattu (bull-taming sport) should not be subjected to cruelty.
  5. They questioned the notification’s justification to allow the return of jallikattu for cultural and traditional reasons.

Jallikattu in T.N., bullock cart race in Maharashtra cleared

Centre ignores Attorney-General Rohatgi’s advice against move

  1. The Centre issued a notification to permit jallikattu, Tamil Nadu’s traditional bull-taming sport, ahead of the Pongal festival.
  2. The notification overturns a 2011 notification that prohibited the exhibition or training of bulls, and some other animals, as performing animals.
  3. The Supreme Court had in 2014 upheld the 2011 government order.
  4. Now, few guidelines added to regulate, these events shall take place in these areas at such places as the district magistrate or collector explicitly permits,
  5. That the bull once out of the enclosure shall be tamed within a radial distance of 15 metres.

Union Cabinet meet discusses ‘Jallikattu’

  1. The banned bull taming sport of ‘Jallikattu,’ native to Tamil Nadu and performed during the Pongal festival was discussed at a meeting of the Union Cabinet.
  2. Govt. is finding the way to allow the event as most political parties have come out in its support.
  3. Earlier, the SC had banned the sport, and had said that any decision on the sport now needs to be taken after consultation with the Animal Welfare Board.

Jallikattu ban dampens Pongal festivity in rural Tamil Nadu

  1. Jallikattu is a bull taming sport – organised during Pongal since the Sangam age.
  2. Coin bags & other prizes are tied to bull’s horn – men try to grab the prizes.
  3. SC last year banned the sport and all bullock cart races.

Discuss: Talking of races, an elephant race held at the Guruvayur temple at Kerala where winning elephant gets the honour to carry Thidambu (deity)!

:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.

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