JALLIKATTU THE “BRAVE SPORT”
“Let the games, be it JALLIKATTU, CRICKET or any other sports, individual or team, be played in the true spirit of the game, with only one person or team winning and the other losing eventually. Let the true spirit of sportsmanship prevail, over any sports or competition in question, leaving all the individual differences, negatives which take away the joy, spirit of the game-played, be played in the NOW MOMENT….”
Jallikattu, is a traditional spectacle in which a Bos Indicus bull, such as, Pulikulam or kangayam breeds is released into a crowd of people, the very many participants attempt to grab the large hump of 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 running and raging bull to a stop. In some cases, participants must ride along long enough to remove flags on the bull’s horns. Jallikattu is practised in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations on Mattu Pongal day which occurs annually the day after Pongal festival or Makara Sankranti. As there were events of injury and death associated with the sport, both to the participants and animals forced into it, animal rights organizations have called for a ban to the sport, resulting in the court banning it several times over the past years. However, with protest from the people against the ban, a new ordinance was made in 2017 to continue the sport.
Lets’ look into the history of Jallikattu, which has been known to be practiced during the Tamil Classical period (400-100 BC). It was common among ancient people YADAVAS who lived in the “Mullai” geographical division of the ancient Tamil Country. Later, it became a platform for display of bravery and prize money was introduced for participation encouragement. A seal from the Indus Valley Civilization depicting the practice is preserved in the National Museum, New Delhi. A cave painting in while Kaolin discovered near Madurai depicting a lone man trying to control a bull is estimated to be about 1500 years old. The sport Jallikattu has been a part of our Tamizh culture and tradition is undeniable from time immemorial. Likewise, Bos Indicus bulls are bred specifically by the people in villages for this event. Bulls that are able to participate successfully in the Jallikattu event, are used as studs for breeding. These bulls also fetch higher prices in the market.
There are few steps definitely which would have to be adhered to, with the introduction of the Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009, by the Tamil Nadu Legislature, the following activities are to be done in preparation of the event:
· A written permission is obtained from the respective collector, thirty days prior to conduct of event along with notification of the event location.
· The arena and the way through which the bulls pass through is double-barricaded, in order to avoid injuries to the spectators and by-standers who may be permitted to remain within the barricades.
· The necessary gallery areas are built up along the double barricades.
· The necessary permissions are obtained from the Collector for the participants and the bulls fifteen days prior.
· Final preparation before the event include a complete testing by the authorities of the Animal Husbandry Department, to ensure that performance enhancement drugs, liquor, chili powder in the eyes of the bulls just before the start of the event, causing last minute injuries or other instants are not used on the bulls.
AVANIYAPURAM JALLIKATTU: As many as 476 bulls ran through the Vadivasal, while 550 tamers tried to tame them in this year’s FIRST JALLIKATTU, in the Southern Districts that was held at Avaniyapuram in Madurai city on Tuesday. Owing to the differences between two sides in organizing the event this year there, it was conducted by the District Administration as directed by the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court.
The event began at 8 AM, on Tuesday, in the presence of the District Collector S. Natarajan, Madurai police Commissioner S. Davidson Devasirvatham and representatives of the Animal Welfare Board of India. The event was conducted in 8 rounds in which close to 75 tamers tried their best to tame the bulls and qualify to take part in the next round. Some bulls sent the tamers for a toss, while some were tamed. Others ran past the arena without much action, to the disappointment of audience. The sport was paused for a few minutes when a bull fell ill. Officials said that, 44 persons were injured in the Jallikattu, of whom 36 persons including tamers, handlers, public were treated in the nearest primary health centre. Eight of whom, who were badly injured, were referred to Government Rajaji Hospital for tertiary care. Latest information is that, all of them are out of danger. Thousands of public and tourists witnessed the event, but the difference between the two parties resulted in lesser turnout this year as compared to the last two years. Since many locals boycotted the event, the prize distribution this year was much lesser, which was disappointing tamers as well as bull owners who had brought the bulls from faraway places including Madurai.
The winner of the event, was 24-year-old Thirunavukarasu from Muthupatti, in Avaniyapuram was judged the best bull tamer as he tamed nine bulls. The BBA graduate who works for a private bank said, “he has been taming bulls over the last six years and won a few prizes in those events. It is the first time, I am winning the overall prize and I am delighted in winning the best tamer title for the first time, that too in my village” he said.
PALAMEDU JALLIKATTU: The renowned Jallikattu event at Palamedu in Madurai district of Tamil Nadu began on Wednesday morning with thousands of people thronging the venue to watch the bull taming game. The event kick-started around 8 AM after District Collector S. Natarajan read out an oath. At the end of round 1, a total of 68 bulls ran through the “VAADIVASAL” and 1 batch of bull tamers tried to tame them. As many as 988 bulls and 840 bull tamers had registered for the event. Elaborate security measures have been made with more than 1000 policemen deployed in the village to ensure a smooth conduct of the event. Officials from the health, animal husbandry departments were also deployed in Palamedu. The best tamer would win a car, several other prizes, including two wheelers, gold coins are to be presented to the other best performers and bull raisers. No major injuries, were reported to both tamers and bulls and to the general public. The actual figures reported were 567 bulls were checked and participated in the Jallikattu and the actual total bull tamers numbered were, 739. The first prize went to S. Prabhakaran who tamed 10 bulls, second prize went to Ajay who tamed 9 bulls and the third prize went to Karthik who tamed 8 bulls have been reported. Likewise, the raisers of the best bulls, the first three, were also awarded. This year’s events saw less injuries and damages, to persons, bulls and properties, which is a blessing in disguise.
VIJAYASHREE RAMESH, CHENNAI BASED ADVOCATE.