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