Jallikattu

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    • With a steep rise in the daily cases of COVID-19, the district administration in Vellore, Tiruvannamalai, Ranipet and Tirupattur, have banned the conduct of Jallikattu events, ahead of Pongal festival, as part of safety measures.

    About the festival

    • Location: Jallikattu is typically practiced in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations on Mattu Pongal day, which occurs annually in January.
    • History: Jallikattu has been known to be practiced during the Tamil classical period (400-100 BCE).cIt was common among the Ayar people who lived in the ‘Mullai’ geographical division of ancient Tamil Nadu.
    • Bull-taming sport: Jallikattu is a bull-taming sport. The festival is a celebration of nature, and thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest, of which cattle-worship is part.
    • It is a violent sport: and there is only one winner, man or bull.
    • Traditional event: in which a bull such as the Pulikulam or Kangayam breeds is released into a crowd of people, and multiple human participants attempt to grab the large hump on the bull’s back with both arms and hang on to it while the bull attempts to escape.
      • Participants hold the hump for as long as possible, attempting to bring the bull to a stop.
      • In some cases, participants must ride long enough to remove flags on the bull’s horns.

    Issue

    • Cruelty to animals: The practice of Jallikattu has long been contested, with animal rights groups and the courts concerned over issues of cruelty to animals and the bloody and dangerous nature of the sport that causes death and injuries to both the bulls and human participants.

    Significance

    • Culture: It is about showcasing the quality of cattle, the breeding skills of cattle rearers, the centrality of cattle in an agrarian economy, and the power and pride they bring to farmers and land-owning castes in rural Tamil Nadu.
    • Article 29(1): Governments at the state and Centre have wrestled with formulating a regulatory mechanism for Jallikattu, and a matter relating to whether Tamil Nadu can conserve it as a cultural right under Article 29(1) of the Constitution.
      • Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.
    • Vaadivaasal: Perhaps the best guide to the cultural universe of Jallikattu is C S Chellappa’s brilliant novell, ‘Vaadivaasal’ (Arena), a slim volume written in the 1940s, with a handful of male characters and bulls.

    Source: TH