The Tamil annual festival, Pongal, has more vigour in districts like Madurai, Pudukottai, Tiruchirapalli and Thanjavur, for it hosts the famous and ancient sports festival – Jallikattu. The bullfight that is similar to the Spanish bullfights traces its history to around 2000 years when the fight was conducted to select the most suitable bridegroom.
Jallikattu competition commenced in Madurai’s Avaniyapuram on January 15. A prior health check-up of bulls was conducted.
Jallikattu is an age-old event celebrated mostly in the State of Tamil Nadu as part of Pongal celebrations. In the sport, a bull is released into a crowd of people and participants of the event try to grab the large hump on the bull’s back, attempting to bring the bull to stop.
Due to the risk of injury, both to the participants and the bull, the animal rights organizations called for a ban on the sport. However, after long protests by the people against the ban, the Supreme Court, in May 2023, upheld the Tamil Nadu Government’s law allowing the bull-taming sport ‘Jallikattu’ in the State.
A five-judge Constitution bench of Justices KM Joseph, Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy and CT Ravikumar was hearing a batch of petitions challenging Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra Governments’ laws allowing the bull-taming sport ‘Jallikattu’ and bullock cart races.
The Tamil Nadu Government had defended the event of “Jallikattu” and told the apex court that sporting events can also be cultural events and there is no cruelty on the bulls in “Jallikattu”.
Jallikattu, also known as sallikkattu is celebrated on the third day of Pongal – Mattu Pongal Day. The history of this bullfight dates back to 400-100 BCE when it was played by the Ayars, an ethnic group in India. The name is coined from two words: Jalli (silver and gold coins) and Kattu (tied).
Pulikulam or Kangayam is the breed of bull used for the sport. The bulls which win in the festival are in high demand in the market and fetch the highest price. They are also used for breeding.
(with inputs from ANI)