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 Jallikattu Festival 2024: Bull-Taming Sport in Tamilnadu

Jallikattu Festival is a traditional bull-taming sport that is popular in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The word “Jallikattu” is derived from the Tamil words “Jalli” (meaning gold or silver coins) and “Kattu” (meaning tied), referring to the practice of tying coins to the horns of the bulls as prizes for the participants. This cultural event has a long history and is often associated with the Pongal festival, a harvest festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu. Know all about the Jallikattu Festival 2024 and its history.

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What is Jallikattu?

  • Jallikattu is a bull-taming sport conducted during Mattu Pongal, the third day of the Pongal festival.
  • Also known as eru thazhuvuthal or manju virattu.
  • Bulls, symbolizing strength and utility in agriculture, play a central role in the event.
  • Participants attempt to embrace the bull’s hump, aiming to bring it to a controlled stop.

Jallikattu Festival: Bull-Taming Sport

Jallikattu is a traditional bull-taming sport that is celebrated in Tamil Nadu as part of the Pongal festival. The sport involves releasing a bull into a crowd of people and having participants try to grab the bull’s hump to bring it to a stop. The name “Jallikattu” comes from the words “Calli” (coins) and “Kattu” (tie). The tradition is based on attaching a bundle of coins to the bull’s horns, which participants try to retrieve. Jallikattu is also known as ēru taḻuvuṭal and mañcuvirattu. It is celebrated to worship cattle stock.

Jallikattu Festival 2024 Overview

Jallikattu Festival Overview
Celebration Occasion Pongal festival in Tamil Nadu
Main Event Traditional bull-taming sport – Jallikattu
Objective Participants attempt to grab the bull’s hump to bring it to a stop
Name Origin “Jallikattu” from “Calli” (coins) and “Kattu” (tie) – Referring to the tradition of tying coins to the bull’s horns
Alternate Names Ēru Taḻuvuṭal and Mañcuvirattu
Cultural Significance Celebration of worship for cattle stock
Symbolic Element Attaching a bundle of coins to the bull’s horns for participants to retrieve

Jallikattu Festival 2024

The year’s first Jallikattu took place at Thatchankurichi village in Pudukkottai district on January 6, 2024. Subsequent events unfolded at Avaniyapuram in Madurai district on January 15 and Palamedu in Madurai district on January 16.

The photo series vividly captures the essence of Jallikattu, with young participants attempting to tame bulls amidst the spirited crowds. The dynamic images showcase the adrenaline-fueled moments of the bullfighters in action, attempting to grab the hump on the bull’s back.

Jallikattu Festival History

  • Ancient Origins (2000 BCE – 100 BCE): Jallikattu’s roots trace back to 2000 BCE, practiced by the Ayars for selecting suitable grooms.
  • Cultural and Religious Ties: Evolved into a ritualistic event during the Pongal festival, symbolizing the bond between humans and cattle.
  • Symbolism of Coins (Jalli and Kattu): Named “Jallikattu” due to tying coins to bull’s horns for participants to retrieve, highlighting cultural practices.
  • Shifts in Purpose: Transitioned from a groom selection process to a celebration of bravery, skill, and communal identity.
  • Controversies and Legal Challenges: Recent decades saw debates over animal welfare, leading to legal challenges and a temporary ban on Jallikattu in 2017.
  • Legal Status and Protests: Lifted ban in 2017 after widespread protests in Tamil Nadu, highlighting its cultural importance.
  • Continuation in Modern Times: Jallikattu persists as a vibrant cultural tradition during Pongal, adapting to contemporary values and legal regulations.

Jallikattu Festival Controversy

The debate surrounding the sport of Jallikattu revolves around several compelling arguments both in favor of and against its practice.

Arguments in favor of Jallikattu Festival

  • Political Economy: Jallikattu serves as a platform to showcase the quality of cattle, highlighting the breeding skills of cattle rearers. It plays a significant role in the agrarian economy, symbolizing the power and pride associated with farming and land-owning castes in rural Tamil Nadu.
  • Cultural Resistance: For communities like Thevars and Maravars, Jallikattu stands as a cultural manifestation and an act of resistance against urban modernity. In a rapidly changing world, it becomes a crucial marker of social standing and identity, celebrating rural and agrarian values.

Arguments against Jallikattu Festival

  • Harm to Bulls and Humans: Critics argue that Jallikattu is a practice that inflicts harm on both bulls and human participants. Concerns raised by animal rights groups and the courts revolve around the cruel treatment of animals and the dangerous nature of the sport, resulting in injuries and even death.
  • Legal Perspective: In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act takes precedence over cultural traditions. The court emphasized the need to protect the dignity and honor of animals, citing Upanishadic wisdom.

Legal Battle Over Jallikattu Festival

  • 2014 Ban: The Supreme Court, in 2014, deemed Jallikattu as cruelty to bulls, leading to a ban. However, subsequent legal developments included the Tamil Nadu government’s amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the 2017 rules, which permitted the revival of Jallikattu.
  • Supreme Court Judgment: The recent five-judge bench verdict hinges on two key findings. Firstly, the court acknowledged that fresh regulations have minimized the potential cruelty in the sport since the 2014 judgment. Secondly, it accepted the legislature’s view that Jallikattu is a tradition and cultural practice, respecting the sentiment underlying the legislative framework.

Jallikattu Festival UPSC

Jallikattu, a traditional bull-taming sport in Tamil Nadu, is deeply rooted in cultural and religious practices, particularly during the Pongal festival. Originating around 2000 BCE, it evolved from a groom selection process to a celebration of bravery. Despite legal challenges due to animal welfare concerns, the ban imposed in 2017 was lifted in response to widespread protests, reaffirming its cultural significance. The recent 2024 events showcase the sport’s vibrancy, with ongoing debates highlighting arguments for its cultural importance and against animal cruelty.

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Jallikattu: Bull-Taming Sport FAQs

Which festival is known as Jallikattu?

Running of the Bulls

What is the purpose of Jallikattu?

Jallikattu is considered a traditional way for the peasant community to preserve their pure-breed native bulls.

Which district is famous for Jallikattu?

it is most commonly seen played in Madurai over 3 days held in Alanganallur, Palamedu, Avaniapuram in Madurai district.

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