Drop the antagonistic stand against Jallikattu
The Supreme Court’s decision to allow the conduct of Jallikattu has brought cheer to followers of the sport in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu. Jallikattu is a traditional sport that involves both man and animal. In recent years its popularity has increased and the annual Jallikattu events held in Alanganallur and Palamedu of Madurai district have attracted global tourists, despite the opposition to it from animal rights activists.
It is a dangerous sport no doubt, but the village youth relish the adrenaline rush that the sport appears to give them. Even educated youth from the villages, working in IT companies in the cities, take part in the sport as it happens during the Pongal – the Tamil harvest festival –season.
This is how the sport is played. Ferocious bulls are let loose into an arena one after another, where assembled players try and ‘tame’ them. These bulls are reared by families, who look after them with care and affection for rest of the year. An untamed bull is the pride of the family.
The one who manages to embrace the bull’s hump and hang on to it for a certain distance is declared winner and awarded prizes like gold coins, steel bureaus and bicycles.
A lot of reform has been introduced into the sport following protests from animal rights activists that the bulls were being ill-treated. It was reported that chili powder was being applied on the eyes and private parts of the bulls to make them aggressive. The practice of players twisting and pulling the bull’s tail was another cause for concern.
Not only that, each year the sport was claiming the lives of many. The sport was being conducted with absolutely no rules. There was a time when the bulls were let out in open ground and even in streets, with no barricades to separate onlookers from competitors. Bulls had charged on unsuspecting onlookers and gored them to death.
In its original form, the sport is believed to have had none of the cruel practices that may have crept into it in later years.
The protests from the activists forced the organizers of the sport to introduce reforms. The Tamil Nadu government passed the Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Regulation Act, 2009. The rules state that those who wished to organize Jallikattu need to obtain permission from the District Collector thirty days prior to the event and abide by several safety guidelines.
The animals would be examined by Animal Husbandry Department officials before they were let into the arena to ensure that they had not been administered any intoxicants or substances to make them aggressive.
Animal welfare activists were allowed to be present at the venue to ensure that the conditions were being complied with.
There has been remarkable improvement in quality of the events in the last two years.
However, animal rights activists still demand a ban on the sport. They should drop their antagonistic stand toward the sport and refrain from fuelling social tensions with their continued targeting of a traditional sport that is adapting itself to contemporary standards.