This is a collection of newspaper articles selected for the excellence of their content.
Jallikattu in brief
Jallikattu is a bull taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal (mid-January) celebrations on Mattu Pongal day. A seal from the Indus Valley Civilization depicting the sport is preserved in the National Museum.
1. The bull-taming sport also known as 'Manju Virattu' (and Yeruthazhuvuthal, Madu Pidithal and Pollerudhu Pidithal) is organised in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations on Mattu Pongal day. Bulls are specially bred by people of the village for the event and attended mainly by many villages' temple bulls (kovil kaalai)
One major centre of the sport is Alanganallor village, about 424 kilometers (264 miles) south of Chennai. Palamedu, about 434 kilometers (269 miles) south of Chennai is another.
Annually, jallikattu is held from January to July, played first in world-famous Palamedu, near Madurai on January 15 followed by "Alanganallur-jallikattu" in Alanganallur, near Madurai on 16 January.
Special galleries for the spectators are erected at alanganallur in Madurai district. Preparations for jallikattu take several weeks
2. The word 'Jallikattu' is derived from the Tamil words Jalli and Kattu, which mean silver or gold coins tied to the horns of the bulls as the prize money. The term jallikattu comes from the term calli kacu (coins) and kattu (meaning a package) tied to the horns of the bulls as the prize money. Later days during the colonial period this evolved to jallikattu which is the term currently used.
Bull owners whose animal cannot be subdued by the 'tamers' during jallikattu rejoice when the game is over. Successful bull-tamers walk away with gold and silver coins, cupboards, grinders, mixies, wire cots, mobile phones, utensils and bicycles.
As in cricket where bowlers try to get batsmen conceding as few runs as possible, and batsmen try to score as high as they can without getting out, in jallikattu those who try to tame the bulls are like the batsmen, trying to score high. Those whose bulls could not be tamed are like the bowlers, trying to concede as little as possible.
3. Bull baiting was common among the ancient tribes 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 entertainment.
4. There are three variants of Jallikattu - Vati Manju Virattu, Veli Virattu and Vatam Manjuvirattu. In Vati Manju Virattu, the bull which is being released from an enclosure is held for some distance and time. The person who manages to hold the animal within the time span in the distance wins. In Veli Virattu, the bull is released on an open ground while people try to gain control over the animal. And in Vatam Manjuvirattu, the bull is tied to long rope while a team of players try to control the animal.
5. The bull often tries to charge towards the human participants in the sport
Injuries and even deaths occur in jallikattu. Participants and spectators have to scramble for safety when a bull charges towards them during Jallikattu. Bulls also charge at each other.
In 2004, at least 5 people were reported dead and several hundreds injured in various villages. Two hundred have died over the past two decades. Unlike in Spanish bullfighting, the bull is not killed. There are rarely any casualties suffered by the bulls. Several animal activists object to this dangerous game every year, but so far these objections have been in vain.
Reportedly, from 2010 to 2014, there were approximately 1,100 injuries and 17 deaths because of Jallikattu events. Over 200 people have died from the sport over the past two decades [mid 1990s-2016].
6. The calves that are chosen to become jallikattu bulls are fed a nutritious diet so that they develop into strong, sturdy beasts. The bulls are made to swim for exercise. The calves, once they reach adolescence are taken to small jallikattu events to familiarize them with the atmosphere. Specific training is given to vadam manju virattu bulls to understand the restraints of the rope. apart from this, no other training is provided to jallikattu bulls. Once the bulls are released, then instinct takes over.
Bulls that run out of the area stray into villages and get lost after the event.
Jallikattu looms large in the art of the area. On a wall opposite the Madurai collectorate there is a semi-traditional painting of two men trying to tame a bull as many spectators look on..
No tickets are sold for Jallikattu or bullock-cart races
Old Jallikattu and new Jallikattu
It is believed the sport was not cruel earlier. It became more competitive when people started betting on bulls in modern times. Its link to caste pride also made it more cruel. In the Tamil novel Kamalambal Charithiram written by B.R. Rajam Iyer in 1893, the landlord skins alive his bull that has lost in Jallikattu.
The rules of the game
(Please also see the graphic ‘Jallikattu: the main venues, the dates and the rules’ on this page.)
The participants try to hold on to the hump of the bull for a particular time or distance. To control the bull, they try to grab it by the horns or the tail. In another variant, the bull is tied to a long rope and a team of players has to subdue the bull within a specific time to win. In all variants, the aim is to subdue or embrace the bull.
The bull market
Earlier, a small bag of coins which is known as 'jalli' or 'salli' used to be tied to the horns of the bull. The participants tried to retrieve the bag. Now it's not just a bag of coins. These days many people bet big money on the bulls.
Are you man enough?
The game separates the men from the boys. It is considered a test of masculinity. In Tamil ethos, the act of taming the bull has stood for virility and male power since ancient times.
Tame the bull and bag the bride
There are instances in the Dravidian literature where the winner of Jallikattu gets to marry the daughter of the village head. In Kalithogai, a later Sangam work, the poems mention young women falling in love with those who could tame the bulls.
Jallikattu bulls are exceptional. They descend from the Kangayam breed which is fierce and belligerent. They are stronger than usual and have sturdier build. These bulls are prone to attack at slightest provocation. Another breed popular in Jallikattu is Bangur bulls which are known for their speed. Apart from their genetic edge, Jallikattu bulls are fed very well by their owners, which makes them even stronger.
According to an [unverified] estimate, there were one million Kangayam bulls in 1990 and now they have been reduced to 15,000. Jallikattu supporters say the sport is an incentive for people to rear these native breeds which are going extinct.
How the fuss started
Jallikattu was first challenged by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) in 2004. The Supreme Court banned Jallikattu acknowledging that it is inherently cruel “as bulls as bulls are not anatomically suited to such activities, and that forcing them to participate subjects them to unnecessary pain and suffering".
Tamil Nadu’s/ India’s obsession with Jallikattu
The earliest evidence of Jallikattu or bull taming can be found in ancient Indian cave paintings and seal iconography.
The bull has clearly taken Tamil Nadu by the horns, bringing people out onto the streets to protest against the Supreme Court ban on a favourite sport involving the physical taming of the animal. Jallikattu, a festive game played in Tamil Nadu for centuries as part of the celebrations of the local festival Pongal involves the release of a bull amongst a crowd of people who are challenged to bring it to a halt by physically overpowering it. Local folklore suggests the sport can be traced 2000 years back and is an essential part of the rural culture of the region. In 2014 though, the bull taming ritual came under attack by the Supreme Court. As per the court ruling, “bulls cannot be allowed as performing animals, either for Jallikattu events or bullock-cart races in the state of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra or elsewhere in the country.” This year, while the Environmental Ministry passed an order stating the continuation of the sport despite the ban, the Supreme Court put a stay on the order citing issues of animal rights. The people of Tamil Nadu on the other hand have decided to fight the court order citing cultural sensitivities and traditions as their rights.
While cultural significance is the concern of the people of Tamil Nadu, it would be useful to understand the importance attached to the symbolism of the bull in the ancient Indian society and why it continue to be upheld as a representation of valour and productivity.
The earliest evidence of jallikattu or bull taming can be found in ancient Indian cave paintings and seal iconography. Majority of cave paintings in Tamil Nadu consisted of tamed animals such as deer, horse, boar and the bull. The iconography of the bull and in particular, scenes depicting humans taming bulls were a common representation in seals, not just in South India but also in the Indus valley sites. Reflecting upon the importance of the bull in ancient India, archaeologist Patricia Duff has surveyed a large number of seals carrying images of bulls being tamed.
For instance, an Indus seal found at Banawali carries the image of a bull with five figures and two symbols. A short text accompanying the image reads, “buffalo battling a human (or deity)”. Similarly a terracotta clay tablet found at Harappa carries the image of a bull, two human figures and a crocodile. The posture of the bull suggests submission while the human figure is depicted in domination, grasping the horns of the bull with one leg on its head. Similar imagery of bull domination is not just restricted to India, but is also common in ancient sites of Egypt, Turkey and Greece.
The obsession of the earliest societies with bull has to be located in the economics of the time wherein cattle domestication was intertwined with humans evolution from a nomadic to a sedentary lifestyle. DNA evidence and anthropological research has shown that the process of domestication in early ages was followed by significant changes in the physique of animals, making them easier to tend to and breed. However, unlike most other domesticated animals such as dogs, sheep, goats or cows; bulls did not follow the path of natural taming down as is evident from the sort of aggression associated with the animal. The domestication of the bull therefore, carried with it a characteristic quality of fearlessness that we see upheld in the cave paintings and seals. However, unlike most other domesticated animals such as dogs, sheep, goats or cows; bulls did not follow the path of natural taming down as is evident from the sort of aggression associated with the animal. The domestication of the bull therefore, carried with it a characteristic quality of fearlessness that we see upheld in the cave paintings and seals.
At present, the bull continues to hold a reputation in rural society that is associated with courage and physical strength. One of the reasons behind the celebration of Jallikattu is to honour bull owners. Consequently, the prize won by the victor is meagre economically but huge in terms of social prestige. However, while Tamil Nadu stands up unanimously to save the cultural symbolism of the bull, it is important to remember that like with everything else part of our traditions, even cultural notions towards animals needed to be located in time.
© The Indian Express Online Media Pvt Ltd
Bull-taming in Tamil Nadu’s ancient rock art
Rock art discoveries in Tamil Nadu have depicted prehistoric men capturing bulls and attempting to tame them
Art historian and archaelogist K.T. Gandhirajan has unearthed around 15 out of the nearly 70 ancient rock art sites discovered in Tamil Nadu. Many of these rock art discoveries have depicted men from prehistoric times capturing bulls and attempting to tame them. According to Mr, Gandhirajan, it is this taming of the bull that eventually led to the bull-taming sport of jallikattu evolving. Speaking to The Hindu the art historian said that many of these art depictions are found across Tamil Nadu in places such as Nilgiri Hills, Palani Hills and Tuticorin. They were drawn using white clay or crushed white stone, he said. Some of the depictions were inspired by the mythical tales associated with Lord Krishna and his association with cows and bulls, Mr. Gandhirajan said. These rock art descriptions have been compiled in his recent book in Tamil on the subject of Jallikattu Eru Thazhuvuthal ,Jallikattu: Thonnam, Panbadu, Arasiyal .
Centre cites Mahâbhârat tradition to support Jallikattu/ July ‘16
New Delhi, July 26 (IANS) "The fact that Jallikattu is an ancient sport, emphasis must be laid on Mahabarata. The epic cites Lord Krishna controlling a violent bull in the atrium of King Kamsa's palace," the government said in its affidavit [before the SC].
Seeking the restoration of January 7, 2016 notification by the Ministry of Environment and Forest which was put on hold by the top court on January 12, it referred to another chapter of Mahabharata linking Lord Krishna with a bullfight to marry Princess Naganajiti.
Lord Krishna, the affidavit, says tamed "seven bulls to merry Princess Naganajiti, daughter of King Nagnajit of Kosala Kingdom which latter prospered into a tradition in the Velir Kingdom of Tamil Nadu".
The tradition of taming a bull to marry "was observed as a Yadava festival where a Yadava boy had to prove his mettle by fighting a bull to marry a Yadava girl", the affidavit said.
Arun Ram on ‘Jallikattu jingoism’ (and events, 1972-77)
Is it the love for Tamil culture that has brought tens of thousands of youngsters to the streets in Tamil Nadu in the name of jallikattu, virtually holding the state government hostage and putting the Union government in a fix? Yes and no.
For the protester and the sympathiser, it is a fight for one’s cultural heritage being trampled upon by biased, insensitive, even ignorant, decision makers. Look beyond the placard-holding student who boycotted classes to be a sentinel of Tamil culture on the Marina beach and you see a deeper reason: angst of a second generation muffled through systemic de-politicisation of campuses.
What makes this reading difficult for even the discerning is that the protestor himself is not conscious that he represents a generation denied the right to stand up and be heard. With the last of powerful leaders gone with Jayalalithaa’s death, what we see today could be an eruption of that pent-up anger, say observers. Jallikattu came as the right spark, with all the ingredients of hurt pride and unrecognised valour.
The prime culprit here, says political commentator Gnani Sankaran, is M Karunanidhi who quelled two protests in the 1970s, one in Trichy Clive’s college hostel and the other in Annamalai University. Ironically, his party had ridden the student wave during the anti-Hindi agitations to attain power. Not much of the Trichy history remains in public domain, but old-timers remember the hostel residents’ attempt to protest being met with police lathis, leaving pools of blood in the corridors.
In 1972, when Annamalai University decided to confer a doctorate on Karunanidhi, who was then chief minister, the Students Federation of India (SFI) organised a protest. The police beat up student activists. Soon, a body was found in a water tank on the campus. Students said it was Udayakumar, a second year maths student, but the government wouldn’t agree. After a state-wide protest by the SFI, the government set up an inquiry commission headed by Justice NS Ramasami which found the dead man was Udayakumar.
“There was fear,” says retired judge K Chandru, who led the 1972 agitation as an SFI leader. “But an organisation like the SFI had enough members to sacrifice. There are not many now.”
MGR, who became the chief minister in 1977, had a heart of gold, but when it came to dealing with student unrest, he wasn’t much different. “MGR crushed several protests at MC Raja hostel in Chennai,” says C Lakshmanan, associate professor at Madras Institute of Development Studies. Jayalalithaa continued with the legacy, ensuring that student union elections were not fought on political lines.
Adds Lakshmanan: “Students unions, which are supposed to assist colleges in academic and other activities, are either non-existent or handpicked without political banners. This de-politicisation is at the core of the jingoism that we see.”
But a ‘jallikattu jingoism’ may be better than the violence students of some Chennai colleges unleash in the name of ‘bus day.’ “Vandalism shown by some students of Pachaiyappa’s College and Presidency College is also the result of depoliticisation,” says Gnani. Karunanidhi got a taste of this in 1974 from a men’s arts college near Spencer’s, and shifted it to Nandanam. Quaid-E-Millath College for Women today stands where the men’s college was.
Chandru says the DMK not just depoliticised campuses, it also diverted youngsters’ attention from greater social issues to Tamil causes. “The net result is that today’s students interact less with each other over ideas, and social media has occupied the space. This leads to interested parties playing puppetry,” says the former judge who sees “the jallikattu movement” as a mix of spontaneous crowds and some pulled in by such parties. “But the sad thing is that most of our students have no political orientation,” says Chandru.
Without such an orientation, Gnani agrees with Chandru, the jallikattu movement may not sustain itself. Culture is a nice concept; battle, a tough reality.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.
2006-Jan 2017: A timeline
In Jan 2017, Tamil Nadu chief minister Pannerselvam met with PM Narendra Modi to discuss the escalating pro-Jallikattu protests in Tamil Nadu. The latter told the CM that while the Centre appreciated the cultural significance of Jallikattu, the matter is presently in court. Jallikattu, or bull-taming, was banned by the Supreme Court in 2014 on the grounds of animal cruelty. Since then, the ban has been revoked and re-imposed, after which the matter is now in the Supreme Court. However, even as the apex court deliberates - it couldn't give a verdict in time for Pongal when the sport is played - protests have broken out all over Tamil Nadu in favour of continuing the sport which Jallikattu supporters say is a "tradition", a matter of "Tamil pride" and something courts don't have a right to pass verdict on. Marina Beach in Chennai is 'occupied' by protestors demanding Jallikattu be brought back. Here is all you need to know about the controversy:
1. The word 'Jallikattu' is derived from the Tamil words Jalli and Kattu. Jalli refers to silver or gold coins. Kattu means 'tied'. So, together they are talking about coins tied to the bulls' horns, which is the prize money for whoever tames the bull.
2. Jallikattu is also called 'Manju Virattu' and it is organised in Tamil Nadu as part of Pongal celebrations on Mattu Pongal day. Special bulls are bred specifically for the sport. And entire villages turn out to watch the spectacle.
3. Reports that tracked the sport from 2010 to 2014 said it caused approximately 1,100 injuries and 17 deaths. Some reports also say that more than 200 people have died from the sport over the past two decades.
4. The first ban on Jallikattu was instituted in March 2006 by the Madras high court. This happened after a petitioner approached the court to actually get a permit to raise bulls.
5. Three years later, in July 2009, the state government passed the Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Regulation Act 2009. The Act allowed the sport, but with some conditions like making it mandatory for the district collector to give permission to hold events.
6. In July 2011, the then environment minister Jairam Ramesh issued a notification banning the use of bulls as "performing animals".
7. In May 2014, the Supreme Court, while hearing a petition against Jallikattu by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), clarified that bulls must not be used in Jallikattu, bull races, bullfights or any other type of performance. The court also struck down the Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Regulation Act 2009.
8. On January 7, 2016, the Centre revoked the ban on Jallikattu via a notification. It stressed that bulls should not be subjected to cruelty.
9. Later in January 2016, PETA and AWBI challenge the Centre's notification in the Supreme Court and the court stays the notification. Effectively, Jallikattu is banned again. The top court then issued notices to the Centre and other states asking them to file their responses in four weeks, to petitions challenging the central government's notification allowing Jallikattu and bullock-cart races.
10. The Supreme Court said in July 2016 it has set August 30 as the final hearing date to decide on the constitutionality of Jallikattu, but it asserted it disapproves of arguments that the 'sport' should be allowed because it's centuries old. "By this logic should courts allow child marriage, which too was a part of custom for centuries," the top court asked. "The mere presence of tradition can't justify practices," the court said.
11. In November 2016, the Supreme Court dismissed a plea of the Tamil Nadu government that sought a review of the 2014 judgement.
12. In December 2016, the Supreme Court questioned the Centre for its January notification that allowed the use of bulls in events like Jallikattu. The court said its 2014 verdict banning the use of the animals cannot be "negated".
13. With the Pongal festival approaching in January 2017, Tamil Nadu's chief minister O Panneerselvam, earlier in the month, requested PM Narendra Modi to pass an ordinance allowing Jallikattu during the festival.
14. On January 13, 2017the Supreme Court said it cannot deliver its verdict on Jallikattu before the harvest festival of Pongal, which is on January 14-15. A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and R Banumathi said it was "unfair" on the part of advocates to ask for a judgment in two days.
15. Protests began in Tamil Nadu around January 16 2017. They spread across the state and the movement is seen as reminiscent of the anti-Centre, anti-Hindi movement of decades earlier. Pro-Jallikattu activists 'occupy' Marina Beach in Chennai. As protests gather steam, the Tamil Nadu chief minister comes to Delhi to meet PM Modi to resolve the issue.
16. On, January 19, 2017 Pannerselvam met with PM Modi. The latter told the CM that while the Centre appreciated the cultural significance of Jallikattu, that matter is presently sub-judice
TRADITION OF SPORT
Jallikattu has been around for over 400 years. The event was recorded in ancient literature as ‘yeru thaluvudal’ (hugging the bull). Initially, it was a ceremony to select a bridegroom — the successful tamer would get to marry the maiden.
The name jallikattu is derived from the word ‘salli’ or ‘kasu’ meaning coins and ‘kattu’ meaning bundle/pouch. The pouch, made of yellow cloth, filled with coins, is tied to the bull’s horns. The tamer gets the pouch.
WHY DURING PONGAL
On 3rd day of the four-day-harvest festival, people offer prayers to bulls, cows and other farm animals and then play the customary bull-taming sport. They believe that not playing the sport will displease local deities, including lord Muniswara.
The biggest jallikattu, at Alanganallur, has the tourism department’s patronage. The event also takes place in Avaniapuram and Palamedu of Madurai district and in some villages in surrounding districts like Pudukottai, Tiruchirapalli and Thanjavur.
Jallikattu: caste, Tamil culture, violence and livestock breeding
Here's a round-up of the most common arguments that have been advanced for - and against - this controversial bull-taming sport.
1. An integral part of Tamil culture
A lot of jallikattu supporters have advanced the culture argument. For many protesters, the fight for jallikattu is a fight for Tamil pride. Jallikattu, they say, is a centuries-old tradition, and that it's an integral part of the Tamil culture.
Sangam literature, nearly 2,000 years old, talks about 'eru thazhuvuthal' — hugging the bull — as a rite of passage for a man seeking a girl's hand in marriage, says Stalin Rajangam, a Dalit writer (who opposes jallikattu). He says it's conceivable that the practices have been "observed in some form or the other over centuries," but adds that jallikattu "as a competitive sport and spectacle is only a few centuries old and restricted geographically."
The Supreme Court, on its part, said in July last year that "the mere presence of tradition can't justify practices," in response to the Tamil Nadu government's argument that the sport should be allowed because it's a cultural tradition.
2. A 'barbaric' sport
Many opponents of jallikattu say it's a cruel sport which involves tormenting a frightened animal in an arena. Poorva Joshipura, CEO, PETA India, says "AWBI (Animal Welfare Board of India) inspectors documented at numerous jallikattu events that the bulls become so frightened by the menacing mob that they slip, fall, run into barriers and traffic, and even jump off cliffs, so desperate are they to escape."
But others disagree with this view. "It's a wrong perception that the bull-taming sport is a barbaric one. Just like you train a dog for a pet show, you train the bull to take part in jallikkattu or rekla. The act involves embracing the bull, rather than inflicting cruelty on them," a protester in Coimbatore said.
When the Supreme Court banned the sport, it was on grounds that it's a form of cruelty to animals. And in the years preceding the apex court's ban, bull owners took to feeding the bulls arrack and rubbing chili on the animals' bodies to increase their aggression, a report said in 2014. However, some jallikattu supporters deny that such practices occur.
3. Saving native breeds
Those who defend jallikattu say that it helps preserve native breeds of cattle. How? "The sport helps the farmers to select the toughest and sturdiest bulls for further breeding...these bulls are so valuable that no farmer will ever risk the life of these bulls," says V Sridhar, the convener of a pro-jallikattu rally in Bhubaneshwar. But without the sport, those who rear them sometimes sell them off to slaughterhouses.
Karthikeya Sivasenapathy of the Kangeyam Cattle Research Foundation said last year that the drastic fall in the native cattle breed population can be directly attributed to the 1998 entry of PETA in India. He added that the activism against jallikattu over the next decade "nearly depleted native cattle stock."
An animal activist affiliated with the National Cattle Commission said in 2015 that after the Supreme Court ban, many pedigree bulls were sold to "dubious organizations which claim to be saviours of cattle," but extract semen from them to export. She added that these organizations mistreated the animals.
4. A dangerous practice
Between 2010 to 2014, there were reportedly around 1,100 injuries and 17 deaths because of jallikattu events. Over 200 people have died during the sport over the past two decades. Today, too, two people died during a jallikattu event in Tamil Nadu's Pudukottai district.
5. Jallikattu and caste
Dalit activitsts have alleged that jallikattu events are controlled by a particular community, the Thevars, and that the sport perpetuates caste discrimination. Stalin Rangarajam has said those who don't belong to powerful castes are often only spectators of jallikattu. Where Dalits do participate, it's mere "tokenism," he says.
The writer Subaguna Rajan doesn't rule out caste discrimination in jallikattu, but points out that other communities like Nadars and Naickers, too, organize events. In Alanganallur, the most popular jallikattu venue, the event is organized by members of the Naicker caste and 60 per cent of the registered bull tamers are Dalits, he says.
T Ondiraj, a jallikattu organiser from Trichy, argues that even if jallikattu was controlled by a single community, that doesn't mean it isn't a part of the cultural heritage of all Tamils. "It would be like saying Bharatanatyam is never part of Tamil culture because it is practised by a minuscule section of society," he says.
Jallikattu: Evolution over the centuries
Until recently [Jan 2017], jallikattu was a localised Pongal event restricted to a few southern districts. But, in a matter of days, it has turned into a pan-Tamil issue, a symbol of Tamil culture for thousands of college and school students across the state.
The ban is being opposed by Tamils who've probably never seen jallikattu or been associated with it. People living abroad, and across faiths, and women who never participated in it, are now publicly supporting it, says DMK MP K Kanimozhi. “The ban and the unwillingness on the part of those making decisions to have a dialogue with those concerned have brought many Tamils together for jallikattu,“ she adds.
What got jallikattu into national headlines was when a few thousand protesters arrived at Marina Beach in Chennai -a day after protesters in Alanganallur, Madurai, were evicted from the site. The students were assembling in Chennai to show solidarity to their counterparts from Madurai.
By Tuesday evening, Chennai, with its urban setting but a 30% migrant population, had become the epicentre of what was till then a rural, semi-urban protest. Some of the Marina protesters were first or second generation Chennaiites -they had either migrated from villages or their parents had.They knew, or their parents had told them, that cows and bulls are celebrated, even worshipped, as an indispensable part of village life on Mattupongal, which forms part of the three-day Pongal festival.Soon, the numbers swelled, driven largely by social media campaigns and text messages.
The scale of protests has been unexpected, says Badri Seshadri, Tamil writer and co-founder of cricinfo.com, who has been vocal against jallikattu. Cauvery , demonetisation (although that has little to do with Tamils specifically), the Centre not giving enough drought relief, a weak government and lack of towering political figures have encouraged the protesters, he adds. “Even some Hindutva groups are involved since they feel courts should not interfere in people's traditions,“ he adds.
Pongal has been an important but secular festival in the Tamil calendar. Sangam literature, nearly 2,000 years old, talks about `eru thazhuvuthal' -hugging the bull -as a rite of passage for a man seeking a girl's hand for marriage, says Stalin Rajangam, a Dalit writer who opposes jallikattu. “It's conceivable that the practices have been observed in some form or the other over centuries,“ he says.
In districts near Madurai, the sport is observed as `manju virattu', or bull-chasing.The name jallikattu is a corruption of a Tamil term that refers to coins tied onto the bull's forehead, and the winner is said to have tamed the bull if he could yank the coins off.
Like any village activity , jallikattu brings with it feudal values like caste domina tion, Rajangam says. “But the actual jallikattu event as a competitive sport and spectacle is only a few centuries old and restricted geographically,“ he adds.
But, since the ban, various fringe Dravidian and Tamil nationalist groups as well as nearly all state political parties, have campaigned for jallikattu.
In the past, Dalit leaders and activists had baulked at getting involved, aware that Dalits end up being excluded or harassed during jallikattu events in villages. K Krishnaswamy , a prominent Dalit leader, remains a sharp critic of jallikattu. But VCK, another Dalit political party that seeks a pan-Tamil identity , has come out in support of protests.
Court and executive orders; and the ethical debate
2006: Nagarajan of Madurai
The original court petition was filed in 2006 by A Nagarajan of Madurai whose son died during Jallikattu, says PETA India. (The Times of India)
2011-2016 (and 1991)
Why did the Supreme Court hear a petition on Jallikattu, the traditional bull-taming sport of Tamil Nadu?
Modifying its 2011 order that included bulls in a list of animals that “shall not be exhibited or trained as performing animal”, the Environment Ministry in Jan 2016 issued a notification saying Jallikattu, a sport traditionally played in Tamil Nadu during Pongal celebrations, can be held this year.
The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and some others on Monday moved the Supreme Court, seeking urgent hearing of appeals against the Centre’s order. The court will hear the petitions on Tuesday. The harvest festival of Pongal will be celebrated from Friday to Sunday.
But hasn’t the Supreme Court already banned Jallikattu and bullock-cart races on grounds of cruelty to animals?
Yes. In May 2014, the court said “bulls cannot be allowed as performing animals, either for Jallikattu events or bullock-cart races in the state of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra or elsewhere in the country.” The Centre’s notification last week sought to overturn the SC ban.
The SC order also identified “the five freedoms” of animals, including freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition, freedom from fear and distress, freedom from physical and thermal discomfort, freedom from pain, injury and disease, and freedom to express normal patterns of behaviour. It asked Parliament to “elevate rights of animals to that of constitutional rights, as done by many of the countries around the world, so as to protect their dignity and honour”.
Back in 1991, the Environment Ministry had banned the training and exhibition of bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers and dogs. The notification was challenged by the Indian Circus Organisation before the Delhi High Court, and after prolonged litigation, the legality of the notification was upheld. The ministry issued a fresh notification in 2011, which specifically included “bulls”, paving the way for the Jallikattu ban. The May 2014 order upheld the 2011 notification.
So why did the Centre decide to overturn the judgment by the apex court?
It is largely political. The Jallikattu belt is dominated by the politically powerful OBC Thevar community, which has politicians and considerable clout in several parties. All parties in Tamil Nadu welcomed the Centre’s decision.
It was important for BJP to be seen as being with the “people” ahead of the Assembly elections in April. Tamilisai Soundararajan, state president of the BJP, has said lifting the ban would help the party in the polls. Soundararajan said party chief Amit Shah had had several meetings with Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar to ensure the ban was lifted.
Is there anything other than political considerations in this?
Organisers of Jallikattu and bullock-cart races argue that these are traditional practices closely associated with village life, especially in the southern districts. The bulls are specifically identified, trained and nourished for these sporting events, and their owners spend considerable sums on their upkeep. No tickets are sold for Jallikattu or bullock-cart races, and not much pain or suffering is caused to the animal. Thus, they argue, while these events may be regulated, they ought not to be completely prohibited.
And what are the AWBI and organisations such as PETA arguing?
Through various reports, affidavits and photographs, the AWBI has argued that Jallikattu bulls are physically and mentally tortured for the pleasure and enjoyment of human beings. They have also produced visual evidence for torture and cruelty to bullocks in Maharashtra’s bullock-cart races. According to AWBI, Jallikattu or bullock-cart races conducted in this way have no historical, cultural or religious significance in Tamil Nadu or Maharashtra, and that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, must supersede any such practice.
Is this debate then essentially between those who enjoy a medieval bloodsport, and the progressive votaries of animal rights?
It is probably more complex than that. There is a clash of worldviews, and the disagreement reflects the absence of an inclusive approach to the problem. The Jallikattu belt — mainly the districts of Madurai, Tiruchirappalli, Theni, Pudukkottai and Dindigul — still breeds pure native studs, and Jallikattu was always more a way to honour bullowners than a competitive sport. Jallikattu events do not offer any major monetary benefits, and prizes are mostly a dhoti, towel, betel leaves, bananas and token cash — that is rarely more than Rs 101 — on a silver plate. Mixer-grinders, refrigerators and furniture have been added to the list of prizes at some events over the last few years. B Raja of Madurai, who sold his Jallikattu bull after the SC ban, complained that the activists “who make brief visits to villages from the cities and allege cruelty to animals” have very little idea of how the animals are reared. “They are like our children. These critics have never seen that. It is not the same as having a pet dog at their apartments,” he said.
However, AWBI and PETA pictures and video footage do clearly show the animals having their tails twisted or bitten, and being poked with spiked instruments as they are forced into the arena.
2008: SC lifts ban on Pongal bullfight
TN wins battle as SC lifts ban on Pongal bullfight
Dhananjay Mahapatra | TNN January 16, 2008 The Times of India
New Delhi: In a major reprieve to the Tamil Nadu government, Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed its ban and allowed the bull-taming race of ‘jallikattu’ during Pongal festivities this year after the state promised that the animals would not be tortured and steps would be taken to prevent injuries to participants.
However, the court resented the DMK government’s tactics in seeking reversal of its January 11 order, in which it had refused to lift the ban on ‘jallikattu’ terming it as barbaric and inhuman as bulls were tortured, administered chilli powder and local brew to make them charge in an enraged state. The SC did point out that the DMK-led government’s recourse to invoking the religious sentiments of for seeking lifting of the ban did present an obvious contradiction in terms of the Dravidian party’s outright rejection of the “faith” argument in the Ram Setu case. The controversial Sethusamudram project is being also being heard by the SC.
The state’s main argument was that a ban on the 400-yearold traditional event would hurt people’s religious sentiments. But it did not forget to mention that if the ban order was not reversed, people would defy it.
Citing intelligence reports, it said: “In most villages, the people have decided to defy the Supreme Court order and to go ahead with the celebration of ‘jallikattu’ as usual.... This situation would create a major law and order problem in many places during the Pongal festival.”
Appearing for the state, additional solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam tried to focus only on the sentimental issue while distancing himself from the matter contained in the state’s application. But the court’s radar picked up the seriousness of the flaws in the state’s arguments.
“We do not approve of the reasons given by the Tamil Nadu government to seek modification of the January 11 order,” a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices R V Raveendran and J M Panchal recorded in its order while permitting holding of ‘jallikattu’ under strict supervision of the district authorities to prevent torture to animals and injury to participants. The invoking of religious sentiments also invited terse comments from the court, which is also adjudicating the controversy relating to the Sethusamudram Channel Project involving dredging of Ram Setu. After the Centre’s affidavit questioning the basis of Ramayan and Lord Ram kicked up a furore, the TN chief minister had also sought to doubt that Ram ever existed.
The Bench said: “We do not know why the TN government is invoking religious sentiments. We wonder what would be their stand in another case pending before us. We do not want to specify which case.” It was crystal clear that the Bench was referring to Ram Setu controversy.
What clinched the issue for the state was Subramaniam’s insistence that the local administrations of each district under the collector had prepared a blueprint under which all animals would be certified by the veterinary staff that they were fit to be allowed to run and that they had not been tortured. Adding a few more ‘don’ts’ to the list of guidelines already put in place by the state government, the Bench said if all these were strictly adhered to the bulls would not be enraged to run in the earmarked arena and would only walk through it.
“If all the safeguards recorded in the order are strictly implemented, there will be no charm left in ‘jallikattu’ as the bulls would only walk through the running arena,” the Bench said.
2016: Centre allows jallikattu
“Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu, bullock cart race in Maharashtra, Kambala in Karnataka and some sort of race using bullocks in Punjab have been traditionally and culturally practiced for centuries. We want to respect that but also ensure that there should be no cruelty ,“ environment minister Prakash Javadekar said on Monday .
These events involving animals will be permitted to continue “for some time“, he said. Jallikattu, also known as `Eruthazhuvuthal', is a bull taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as part of Pongal celebrations. The Supreme Court had banned using bulls for Jallikattu events or bullock-cart races across the country and directed governments and the Animal Welfare Board of India to take steps to prevent infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals.
2016: Central, southern districts celebrate
The Times of India Jan 11 2016
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Final Word Is Yet To Be Heard But Bull Owners, Tamers Gird Up Their Loins With Just A Week To Go For The Scheduled Events
Rural regions in the central and southern districts erupted in celebrations as soon as news spread that jallikattu will be conducted this Pongal.
People took to the streets with their jallikattu bulls and distributed sweets.
“Today is the real Pongal for us as we have been desperately waiting for a positive announcement,“ said V Srinivasan, owner of five jallikattu bulls at MelaKondayamPettai village near Thiruvanaikaval in Trichy district. Said Satish, a jallikattu enthusiast from Milaguparai, “The government has shown a way to ensure that jallikattu is conducted this year. But we insist on a permanent solution so that the sport can be celebrated ever year.“
Bull owners in Madurai district are speeding up preparations. Although many jallikattu events take place across the district, Alanganallur, Palamedu and Avaniyapuram are particularly famous for the sport.
Though jallikattu was banned, bull owners say they have not been taking it easy . The bulls have been undergoing strenuous training to hone up their strength and stamina; tamers say everything is in the hands God. “We just bank on Him and enter into the ring and he will take care of our lives.“
One has to be daring as well as adept to successfully tame a bull. “It would not happen all of a sudden.
You have to spend years together from childhood closely with bulls in order to learn the nuances,“ a B Sakthivel, a bull tamer. For many bull owners, the animal is like a family member. “I have two children, but I love my bull Karuppasamy more. I have caned my children, but not my bull.Usually the jallikattu bulls are pledged to God and we consider them sacred,“ says Dhana Kumar, a resident of Manickampatti near Palamedu in Madurai district. However, there was an undercurrent of concern that there was not much time left for preparations. Bull owners and tamers say the usual spirit will be missing at this year's event. Prizes to winning bull tamers as well as bulls are an important aspect of the jallikattu event. These range from motorcycles on rare occasions, gold coins, bicycles, steel almirahs, bronze utensils and even sheep and goats. The prizes are announced to wild cheers from thousands of spectators gathered at the venue. The organisers usually start collecting donations much earlier.Those who cannot afford to contribute cash would give away their goats and sheep.
“Last time we collected around `15 lakh and prize items. We started reaching out to people well in advance.This time it would be an achievement if we manage to collect `10 lakh,“ said P KarthigaiRajan of the PalameduPodhuMagalingaMadathu Committee that organises the sport. Bull tamers and owners do not attach much importance to prizes. They say they would venture into the ring with pride even if there is no prize.
PETA TO MOVE SC
Animal rights organisation People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA), which has been at the forefront of the campaign against jallikattu, on Friday said it would challenge the Centre's decision to permit the bulltaming sport in Supreme Court. The Supreme Court had on May 7, 2014 banned the ancient sport. PeTA India CEO PoorvaJoshipura vowed to continue their fight to protect bulls from cruelty
Jan 2016/ Centre allows Jallikattu, SC stops it, Jayalalithaa wants ordinance
The bench said that in view of contentions raised, there has to be an interim order staying ‘Jallikattu’ till the points of law are decided by the apex court.
With its [Jan 2016] order, the Supreme Court has revived its ban on Jallikattu, first imposed in May 2014 when it held that use of bulls in such events severely harmed animals and constituted an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Questioning the “necessity of such festivals”, the Supreme Court Tuesday restrained the Tamil Nadu government from conducting its traditional bull-taming sport Jallikattu, and stayed the Centre’s notification lifting the ban on it.
“What is the necessity of such festivals… like Jallikattu? There was no festival for four years… as an interim measure, we direct that there shall be stay of notification dated January 7, 2016 issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, until further orders,” a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and N V Ramana said.
Agreeing with animal rights groups on the necessity to issue an urgent order, the court imposed the interim stay until March 15 which, apart from Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu, will also prohibit bullock cart races in states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Kerala and Gujarat during this period.
The bench, citing points of law raised in a clutch of appeals against the January 7 notification, issued notices to Centre, Tamil Nadu and other states, seeking their replies in four weeks. It turned down the submission by the counsel for the Tamil Nadu government that prohibition on Jallikattu “will be creating a dent in culture”.
In Tamil Nadu, protests erupted in villages near Madurai after the Supreme Court stayed the Centre’s notification. Roads connecting Alanganallur and Palamedu were blocked by protesters.
Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to consider bringing an ordinance to allow Jallikattu during the Pongal harvest festival.
Reminding the Prime Minister that the Pongal festival begins on January 14, Jayalalithaa said it is very important that the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu be respected since they have deep attachment to the conduct of Jallikattu.
Representing the Centre, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi sought to defend the notification by arguing that the apex court had not totally prohibited the participation of bulls in Jallikattu but only desired that care is taken so that bulls are not treated with cruelty.
“We perceive the (Animal Welfare) Board and others have really not approached the court for protection of their fundamental rights, but the rights of animals in the constitutional and statutory framework,” the bench said.
While the Attorney General argued that Jallikattu is not like bull fighting in Spain and that conditions have been provided in the notification so that cruelty to participating animals is avoided, the bench noted that the real issue should be at what stage can it be made sure that harm to animals is completely avoided.
2016: Jallikattu on in Andhra, TN despite SC ban
The Times of India, Jan 17 2016
What SC ban? Jallikattu on in Andhra, TN
Thousands of villagers in Chittoor district of Andhra and some 60 “tamers“ in a village in Trichy, Tamil Nadu, participated in jallikattu on Saturday despite the Supreme Court ban. Andhra police, who had issued notice to the organisers, were mere spectators as revellers chased bulls in half a dozen villages. They said it was just a “cattle festival where animals were decorated“.
2016: Anbil village defies SC order, hosts jallikattu
The Times of India, Jan 17, 2016
K Sambath Kumar
Tamil Nadu village defies SC order, hosts jallikattu with 65 bulls
Defying a Supreme Court ban, Anbil village near Lalgudi in Trichy district organized a jallikattu morning with 65 bulls and 40 tamers. The nearest police station, about 10 km away, turned a blind eye as villagers gathered in the square called MariammanThidal, and cheered the participants as they tried to "tame" the bulls. The event is said to have started at 10am and went on until noon. The village has been organizing the bull sport for more than three decades. The bulls were brought from several neighbouring villagers and kept ready a couple of days ahead of the event. About 600 villagers gathered at the venue where the event was organized by village heads
November 2016: Why cruelty to animals: SC to Centre
The Hindu, November 10, 2016
Why import a Roman-type gladiator sport, asks SC
The Bench said even if argument was that Jallikattu was a "sport," it was a "cruel" sport and cruelty to animals was prohibited by the law. Asking why bulls should be made to suffer for the entertainment of humans, the Supreme Court has pulled up the Centre for trying to “import a Roman-type gladiator sport” despite a judgment clearly banning Jallikattu as a cruelty and crime to animals.
“Can bulls be contemplated for entertainment of human mind? Bulls are supposed to rest, why should they race,” a Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Rohinton Nariman tested the legality of the Centre’s January 7 notification permitting Jallikattu.
The Bench said even if argument was that Jallikattu was a “sport,” it was a “cruel” sport and cruelty to animals was prohibited by the law.
When senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, for Tamil Nadu, said when humans ran marathons, why could not bulls be part of a sport.
“Humans have free will, bulls are forced into it,” Justice Misra replied.
The court called for compassion to animals, saying it was our constitutional obligation, while posting the matter for further hearing on November 16.
In defence of Jallikattu, the Tamil Nadu government had highlighted how there was nothing wrong in farmers practising Jallikattu in the semi-arid regions of the State if the Spanish Senate could in 2013 declare the “far more cruel” sport of bull-fighting a cultural heritage.
The Supreme Court had on January 12 stayed the January 7 notification on a challenge from NGOs like Compassion Unlimited Plus Action, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals India and Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations.
The notification by the Ministry of Environment and Forests had allowed the exhibition and use of bulls as performing animals for Jallikattu and bullock-cart races despite an express ban from the apex court in a judgment in 2014.
In its turn, the NDA government too had invoked tales from the Mahabharata to urge the Supreme Court to lift its ban on the “ancient sport” of Jallikattu, arguing that it was good for maintaining bio-diversity.
The Ministry claimed that Jallikattu “encourages breeding of indigenous bulls.”
The Centre had toed Tamil Nadu’s line that Jallikattu was not mere organised entertainment but an “age-old tradition practised for time immemorial.”
“You say that Jallikattu is an age-old tradition, so was child marriage until it was declared a crime,” Justice Misra had retorted then.
The court had said it was not here to consider the nuances of practices and tradition but to look into the constitutionality of the January 7 notification.
The 2014 Supreme Court judgment had termed Jallikattu “inherently cruel” and specifically held that no regulations or guidelines should be allowed to dilute or defeat the spirit of a welfare legislation like Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960 and constitutional principles. If so, the Supreme Court should strike them down without hesitation.
The judgment had already laid down that a court’s duty under the doctrine of parents patriae was to take care of the rights of animals, since they were unable to take care of themselves as against humans.
The judgment had classified the bull as a draught animal not meant for running but sedate walking under the Prevention of Cruelty to Draught and Pack Animals Rules, 1965.
Nov 2016/ Supreme Court dismisses review petition
In a blow to the farmers community in Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a review petition filed by the State to review a 2014 apex court judgment banning Jallikattu.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Rohinton Nariman said the very act of "taming a bull" to perform in an event runs counter to the concept of welfare of the animal, which is the basic foundation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960.
The State, represented by senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, had countered that Jallikattu was not cruelty and was defined as an act of "taming" of bulls as per a 2009 State law enacted to "regulate" the event.
"The 2009 Act was introduced to stop any kind of torture. Taming a bull is not torture. You cannot ban Jallikattu just because there was torture long ago. It is like a bank stopping all loans just because somebody had cheated it once long ago," Mr. Naphade submitted.
Appearing for the Animal Welfare Board of India, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, countered that "festivals cannot celebrate cruelty". He argued that the 2009 State law was "repugnant" to the 1960 Central law.
Mr. Naphade said the 1960 Act had no power over the State law and it was the prerogative of Tamil Nadu under Entries 14 and 15 of the State List to preserve and care for its own livestock.
But the Bench agreed with Mr. Singhvi that there was indeed a "head-long collision" between the 1960 Act and the Tamil Nadu law of 2009 on what constitutes 'cruelty'.
"There is a direct collision between the two enactments in as much as one stands for the welfare of animals (1960 Act) and the other (2009 Tamil Nadu law) makes bulls a participant in an event meant for the inferior pleasure of man," the Supreme Court concluded.
Taming of bulls
The court observed in its order that it was "inconceivable" that a bull, a domestic animal, should be tamed for entertainment's sake.
The court threw out Tamil Nadu's argument that the ban affected the fundamental right to religion enshrined under Article 25 of the Indian Constitution.
Speaking for the Bench, Justice Misra said it was "unfathomable" why the State has contrived a connection between Jallikattu — an event — and the right to religious freedom.
"How does Article 25 come in here? Jallikattu is not a religious event. You are defaming the framers of the Constitution by linking Jallikattu to Article 25," Justice Misra addressed Mr. Naphade.
"But every festival has a religious base. I cannot think of any festival which has not originated from a religion... Diwali is also on the same footing," Mr. Naphade countered.
In its order, the Bench said Jallikattu was an "event" meant for the sheer entertainment of man at the expense of the animal and has nothing to do with religious freedom.
Earlier, Mr. Naphade argued that what was banned under law was "paid entertainment" and not a socio-cultural event with a religious association like Jallikattu, which is organised by the farming community of the State.
"If Jallikattu is banned for being paid entertainment, then why don't you ban horse racing too... How are you permitting horse racing?" Mr. Naphade argued.
The 2014 Supreme Court had banned Jallikattu after declaring it to be an act of "inherent cruelty".
In January this year, the Centre had tried to circumvent the court ban by issuing a notification introducing bulls into the list of 'performing animals'. Environmental activists approached the SC, arguing that the notification was a bid to revive Jallikattu.
Touching on the notification, the Bench observed in its order that the validity of the notification would be adjudged by the court in the parameters of the 1960 Act.
The future of the central notification looks bleak as the Bench has already observed that the 1960 Act is dedicated to "prevent unnecessary pain and suffering caused to animals".
"Prevention of cruelty to animals is the motto of the 1960 Act," Justice Misra observed
2017, Jan: Jallikattu conducted despite ban; one man gored to death
MADURAI/SALEM/TRICHY: Despite Supreme Court ban+ on the sport, jallikattu was held+ at different parts of the state.
37 bull tamers were injured during Jallikattu
Even strong police presence at places famous for holding the event could not stop jallikattu+ enthusiasts from unleashing bulls in presence of hundreds of spectators.
At Alanganallur in Madurai district, the most popular destination for the bull-taming event, police thwarted attempts to hold the sport+ . Police blocked all entrances to the jallikattu 'arenas' in the village and kept vigil on the houses of bull owners. Despite the effort, jallikattu enthusiasts unleashed three bulls into a crowd in the morning but police promptly stopped the event and dispersed the crowd. Shops remained closed as a mark of protest, and several residents hoisted black flags outside their houses.
At Trichy district, however, police were only partly successful in upholding the ban on jallikattu. At Adhavathur village, villagers set up a makeshift 'Vadivaasal' (from where the bulls are let loose) at the centre of the village. As many as 50 bulls were unleashed from there before the Somarasampettai police could rush to the spot and stop the event midway. Muthapudaiyanpatti near Manapparai on the outskirts of Trichy, also witnessed the event with the organisers unleashing around five bulls. On getting information, Manapparai police rushed to the spot and halted the event.
Similarly the event was held depite police vigil across Namakkal, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri and Erode districts. At Tammampatti in Salem district, villagers led 50 bulls to the local temple to conduct a puja. After the puja, the bulls were suddenly unleashed. However, the event was stopped by police after some struggle.
Jan 2017: eruthu vidum vizha (bull race)
VELLORE: Around 100 bulls were made to run during the banned eruthu vidum vizha (bull race) at Vellakuttai in Vellore district of Tamil Nadu [during the annual Pongal festival]. One of the bulls ran into spectators and rammed Shanmugam.
According to the complaint lodged by the victim's wife Kasthuri, Shanmugam was on his way to a temple in the vicinity when the bull attacked him.
Like jallikattu (bull-taming), eruthu vidum vizha is also a traditional sport in Tamil Nadu that has been banned by the Supreme Court.
The Times of India Jan 11 2016
Sambath Kumar & Rachel Chitra
The name jallikattu comes from salli kassu (coins) that were tied to the bull's horns as prize money for the victor. Ironically , the sport is actually labour-intensive and a drain on financial resources.
While it takes much of a bull owner's income to raise these native breeds, he hardly stands to gain materially if his bull goes untamed, except the prizes worth a few thousands he collects. The same is the case for bull tamers. What fascinates the youth is the pride of owning a bull and being known as a valorous bull tamer.
“A bull that was untamed in the previous jallikattu is looked upon with high anticipation as an announcement is made over its ferocious nature. Wild cheers from the gathering when attempts are made to tame such bulls drive the bull tamer to risk his life,“ says Mettupatti Moorthy (31), who has been participating in this sport for ten years and has undergone four major surgeries after getting injured while taming bulls.
“While motorcycles are the costliest prizes so far, televisions, fridges, gold coins, cattle and household utensils too are given to successful bull tamers and bull owners,“ president of the Alanganallur Jallikattu Committee Sundarrajan said. For S Palani, a small-farmer from Palamedu in Madurai district, jallikattu is coming at the cost of his daughter's education.“I wanted to enroll my daughter in an engineering college because she got good grades,“ he said.
1: ‘Jallikattu nurtures native breeds, ban threatens them’
Native cattle breeds in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu face a fight for survival if a ban on "bull-taming" contests is not revoked, say supporters of the sport.
Jallikattu has been practised for thousands of years - unlike in Spain, the bull is not killed and the object is to pluck bundles of money or gold tied to the animal's sharpened horns.
Only native breeds are used in Jallikattu.
"In Tamil Nadu we used to have six native breeds. One breed called Alambadi has been officially declared extinct," says bull fighting supporter Balakumaran Somu. "This ban is going to kill other breeds as well."
'Bulls not pets'
Breeders say Jallikattu and bullock cart racing gave the region a healthy male-to-female ratio of native cattle.
Breeders say they can't afford to keep bulls as pets
"Jallikattu inspired people to hold onto their bulls. Farmers provided extra care for the animal since the bull represents the pride of their family and community. If the ban continues there will be no incentive to hold on to the bulls," says Karthikeyan Siva Senaapathy. He is among the few breeders of pure Kangayam cattle.
The Kangayam breed is native to western Tamil Nadu and used extensively in Jallikattu.
"We had over one million Kangayam bulls in 1990. The population has fallen to 15,000 now."
Tamil Nadu is the most urbanised state in India, with a well-established manufacturing and services sector. Due to the mechanisation of agriculture and transport, the economic rationale for owning a bull has declined.
Bullock carts are seen less and less these days in Tamil Nadu
Dairy farmers, too, are turning their back on native cattle and prefer high-yielding buffaloes and cross breeds. Most of the small dairy farmers own only cows and buy in the services of Jallikattu bulls.
"Among the young calves only the best is selected for Jallikattu. Others are castrated and used to plough farmland. This ensures only the best genes get passed on," Mr Senaapathy says.
"We used to have a cow-to-bull ratio of 4:1. But now it has gone to 8:1 and it is going to slip further due to this ban. Farmers can't afford to have big bulls as pets."
Activists claim the removal of native stud bulls from villages will make farmers depend more on artificial insemination.
Usually, old bulls are sold off. But now younger and fitter bulls are being sold to meat traders.
Jallikattu contests used to be huge crowd pullers
Bullfighting arenas in Tamil Nadu were empty in 2016 for the first time
Alarmed by the surge in the number of bulls being killed for meat, a non-governmental animal rights organisation swung into action and bought more than 200 bulls.
"These bulls are not protected under any law. So, we couldn't stop them from being sold for slaughter. The only option to save these animals was to buy them," says S Nizamudeen, founder of Coimbatore Cattle Care.
He is planning to offer his bulls for stud services.
"None of the bulls I bought had any major injury or signs of torture. Many farmers are selling the bull because of the uncertainty." He favours the resumption of Jallikattu under strict guidelines.
P Rajasekaran, president of the Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Federation, agrees.
"If any individual is caught doing harm to a bull, catch him and prosecute him. We have no objection to it. But don't have a blanket ban."
Most of the bulls used in Jallikattu are owned by village temples - in other words by the community. These bulls can't be sold but the fear is they may not be replaced.
But animal rights activists argue the decline of native cattle began even before the ban, due to economic factors.
"Our primary concern is the welfare of the animals not the survival of the species," says Dr S Chinny Krishna, vice chairman of the Animal Welfare Board of India. It functions under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the prime mover behind the ban.
"Bulls were domesticated thousands of years ago. They don't see humans as enemies."
He says large numbers of bulls are already being rescued and sheltered by various animal rights groups and they are ready to do more to rehabilitate them and to help breeding programmes.
"To suggest an animal has to endure a life of cruelty just to survive is an unacceptable proposition."
'I talk to my bulls'
References to bull fighting can be found in Tamil literature dating back 2,000 years. Bull fighters are celebrated in folklore. Tamil cinema often depicts bull taming as a mark of heroism.
A decade ago some satellite TV channels started broadcasting Jallikattu events live. This helped to revive interest in a slowly declining sport and unexpectedly brought in money.
Bull tamers in some places even won prizes. But the sport also attracted more scrutiny, eventually leading to the ban.
Pandian Ranjith says bulls are "valued members of the family"
Madurai-based bull owner and tamer Pandian Ranjith accuses animal rights groups of exaggerating the situation.
"I have been taming bulls for close to 20 years now. I have been injured many times. I have seen so many bull fighters suffer serious injuries. But I've never ever seen a bull being injured."
He argues a total ban offends communities who cherish a particular way of life - a family tradition he inherited from his father and grandfather.
"I am a tech graduate and work as a network support consultant. When I come home, I go straight to my bulls and talk to them before having my dinner. We treat the bulls as valued members of our family. We can't think of harming them."
Animal rights activists disagree. They point to bulls being given substances such as alcohol to disorient them.
They have also filmed instances when tails were twisted or bitten, or the animals jabbed with sharp instruments or sticks.
But Jallikattu supporters question why there is no action against horse racing or the conditions of temple elephants.
Meanwhile, the fate of native breeds remains uncertain.
No political party in Tamil Nadu favours a complete ban on the sport - so organisers hope to find a solution through political initiatives rather than a legal reprieve before next season.
2: Livestock keepers will abandon genetically superior native bulls
If cultural events are banned, livestock keepers will be forced to abandon raising of genetically superior native bulls that are used for mating to improve herd quality
It will take years to clearly understand the repercussions of the decline of the traditional cattle economy. What has not been assessed yet is the impact of ban on the future of native species (and its numbers) and the rural economy dependent on it.
Two years after the Supreme Court had ruled that ‘bulls cannot be allowed as performing animals, either for Jallikattu events or bullock-cart races in the country’, there was a fresh move to amend Section 22 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 (PCA) for getting the racing bulls back on the village racing tracks. Cleared by the Ministry of Law and Justice, the proposed amendment sought to ‘continue performance of trained animals under the customs or as a part of the culture, in any part of the country’.
The proposed amendment is yet to get the Parliament’s nod, a group of organisations under the aegis of the Biodiversity Conservation Council of India (BCCI) have invoked Articles 8(j) and 10(c) of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD), to which India is a signatory, which seek to ‘respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities’ as well as encourage ‘customary use of biological resources which are compatible with conservation and sustainable use requirements’ in support of the government’s move.
‘If these cultural events remain banned, livestock keepers will be forced to abandon the raising of native livestock, which are already threatened on account of farm mechanization,’ argues Karthikeya Sivasenapathy, who in addition to BCCI managing trustee is also on the management board of the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University.
Contesting the sweeping claims by the Animal Board of India (AWBI) that the animals are tortured during the event, the activists wonder why would the owners harm their own bulls, which is like a ‘family member'.
Prevalent across Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Kerala and Gujarat, this sport has been in vogue since the days of the Indus Civilization. What is considered cruel by animal rights activists today has instead been symbolic of the intimate bond between the cattle and the peasants since time immemorial. Ancient Tamil literature (Sangam, 2nd Century BC) refers to it as Eru Thazhuvuthal, meaning hugging the bull. Known by diverse nomenclature, there are many variants of this sport across the country.
While Jallikuttu in Tamilnadu involves holding on to the hump of the bull and running along as long as one can hold onto the animal, in coastal Karnataka the race called Kambala involves testing athlete’s endurance of running with a pair of he-buffaloes on a slush racing avenue. These studs are trained, fed and nourished through the year for the annual racing event, which is a matter of pride for the owner and the village.
Since these bulls are genetically superior to other animals, these are used for mating to improve the quality of herd in the village, and beyond.
Ever since the Supreme Court had banned Jallikattu and similar racing events in May 2014, there have been reports regarding distress sales of quality bulls from many parts of Tamil Nadu. Farmers sold their bulls for a pittance, and several of these found their way to the slaughterhouses.
Since evolution of quality breeds is a product of complex interplay of nature and culture, cultural events hold special significance in preserving native species. In fact, Kambala is observed as a thanks-giving to gods for protecting the animals from disease.
While animal rights are a matter of serious concern, so is the need to preserve native species which stand threatened due to overt machination of agriculture. There is hardly any incentive for livestock keepers to maintain quality herd. In many parts of the country, such bulls are found abandoned, and are a threat to civic life on the streets. If the sport is banned, it would bring curtains on many native breeds. The future of the Kangayam breed, which is preferred during Jallikuttu, one of the five existing pure breeds of the state is in dire straits.
These events are races and not bull-fights of Spain. However, there is no denying the fact that safety of the animals should be paramount in such sporting events.
Dr Sudhirendar Sharma is Director, The Eco-logical Foundation, New Delhi.
2018: 1 dead, 50 hurt
Madurai/Trichy: A 19-year-old spectator was gored to death by a raging bull at the jallikattu at Palamedu in Madurai on Monday, which also saw more than 25 people getting injured.
In Periya Suriyur village, 22 bull tamers sustained injuries while attempting to tame bulls. The deceased has been identified as S Kalimuthu, a mill worker, of Sanarpatti in Dindigul district. He had come with his friends to witness jallikattu, the second event this year after the one held at Avaniyapuram
2017: Widespread protests against the ban on Jallikattu
January 2017, a timeline
From (The Times of India)
After Pongal (mid-Jan) 2017, Tamil Nadu was engulfed by protests against the ban on Jallikattu. So widespread were these protests—the biggest mass-mobilisation in the state after 1965—that The Times of India blogged on Jan 18, ‘You may call it the Tamil Nadu version of the Arab Spring, or it may even remind you of the anti-Hindi agitation in the state in .’
The students had a romantic idea of Tamil life in villages and felt the lifestyle needed to be protected. PeTA was their common object of hate although the NGO is only one of many animal rights organisations, albeit the most visible one, against jallilkattu.
Actor Kamal Haasan asone of the earliest opponents of the ban. Rajinikanth joined the ‘protest, strengthening the protest even more.’ Music director AR Rahman to observe fast in support of Tamil Nadu's spirit. 5-time World Chess Champion Vishwanathan Anand extends support to holding jallikattu, he said "it is a cultural symbol." Ajith and Suriya followed. ‘Pongal is the biggest festival in Tamil Nadu, bigger than Holi and Diwali, and Jallikattu is an intergral part of Pongal,’ ANI quoted Sri Sri Ravi Shankar as saying.
On Jan 19, The Times of India blogged, ‘The Centre appears to be sympathetic to the demand of Tamil Nadu on Jallikattu, but it will wait for the Supreme Court's final order on the bull-taming sport before taking its next call on the controversial issue.’
As jallikattu protests gathered strength across Tamil Nadu, chief minister O Panneerselvam said he would meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on [19 Jan] to get an ordinance passed in favour of the traditional bull-taming sport.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Pannerselvam met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to urge ordinance on Jallikattu. O Panneerselvam tweeted, ‘PM Modi said he gives highest importance to cultural values of the state. He assured he will extend full support to us.’ The PM noted that the Supreme Court is yet to deliver its verdict, and said the Centre would support the steps TN government will take in this regard.
Since it is an ordinance it needed the President's assent first.
The state gave [a draft] ordinance to the Ministry of Home Affairs. After seeking clearance from the ministries of environment and law, it needed to be sent for the President's assent, TOI's quoted Tamil Nadu chief minsiter as saying.
Supreme Court agreed not to pass any interim order for a week on the Jallikattu issue.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had mentioned before the CJI Court that the Jallikattu judgement should be deferred till next week as Union and State governments are trying to solve the issue.
On 20 Jan 2017 the Madras high court rejected a public interest litigation (PIL) that wanted the state and central governments to enact a law for the bull-taming sport. Dismissing the PIL that apparently sought to cash in on the current situation, the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sundar said courts could not issue such direction to government or authorities.
By the late evening of 20 Jan the decks were clear for Tamil Nadu to promulgate an ordinance allowing jallikattu in the state after the Centre moved speedily to clear the proposal.
The law ministry gave its nod for promulgation of the ordinance. The home ministry then conveyed the Centre's approval to the state go vernment, paving the way for promulgation of the ordinance by Tamil Nadu governor Vidyasagar Rao.
Sources said the PMO en sured the ordinance was cleared expeditiously. “We acted in keeping with the promise of constructive and cooperative response made by PM Modi to Tamil Nadu CM O Panneerselvam. Our objective was to ensure that there was peace in Tamil Nadu and people there felt reassured about the protection of their tradition and culture,“ a senior government source said.
It was screened by the environment ministry too so that it could stand scrutiny in the courts.
On Saturday 21 Jan 2017 Tamil Nadu governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao promulgated an ordinance for the conduct of jallikattu, after a three-year-long ban, after getting sanction from the President as envisaged under Article 213 of the Constitution. A Raj Bhavan press release said, “Owing to protests against the ban on jallikattu from students and from people of all walks of life in Tamil Nadu and considering the sentiments of Tamils and to protect their cultural right, the governor had decided to promulgate an ordinance.“
However, protesters on Marina beach and elsewhere refused to end their agitation unless a “permanent“ solution is found.
Chief Minister O Panneerselvam assured that the state would introduce a bill replacing the ordinance [2 days later] on Monday , the very first day of the assembly session. He explained that the state did not want to delay a proper law as the maximum validity of the ordinance is six months.
On 22 Jan Jallikattu events were organised in a few villages in Trichy and Pudukottai districts.
However, people in Alanganallur and a few other places foiled the state government's plan to hold jallikattu, as they wanted a permanent solution whereby the bull-taming sport can be held without any legal hindrances in future.
Two bull tamers died and 129 others suffered injuries during a jallikattu event at Rapoosal village in Tamil Nadu's Pudukkottai district. One of the victims suffered an injury on his stomach when he attempted to hold the bull by its hump, and the other's ribs were pierced when he tried to tame the bull.
The jallikattu event in Rapoosal was flagged off by health and family welfare minister C Vijaya Baskar. More than 5,000 people were present in the village to watch it.
CM O Panneerselvam, who had announced that he would inaugurate Jallikattu at Alanganallur, had to stay back in a hotel in Madurai following the protests there.
23 Jan 2017 (till afternoon): After the promulgation of the ordinance, P Rajasekhar, President of the Jallikattu Pathukaapu Peravai, appealed to the protesters to call off their agitation. However, protests continued in Chennai, Madurai and Puducherry, despite intensive police action to evict the protesters.
The Jallikattu protests in Tamil Nadu, which had been peaceful for a week, turned violent with demonstrators throwing stones at police following eviction action against them at the Marina beach. The ongoing jallikattu protests took a violent turn with demonstrators in Chennai and Madurai pelting stones at the police, This happened even as governor CV Rao promised to table a bill in the state assembly to lift the ban on the bull-taming sport.
The Times of India report]]ed that some unidentified persons set a few bikes on fire in front of the Ice House police station near Marina Beach. The miscreants are believed to be part of the jallikatu protests.
In Coimbatore, the police pounced on a protester who stood up with a kerosene canister and threatened to self-immolate. They were successful in taking away the inflammable liquid.
The peaceful agitation against the jallikattu ban turned violent [in Chennai] with more than 50 protesters and more than 90 police personnel injured and a police station set on fire. Eyewitnesses said they saw hundreds of people with grievous injuries on the roads.
Intelligence sources said the violence was executed by elements with extreme Tamil-nationalist agenda and Islamic hardliners who had infiltrated the jallikattu protest in the last few days. (The Times of India)
They threw petrol bombs, stones and bottles at battalions; the policemen retaliated with tear gas shells and lathis. By evening, police said 94 personnel were injured and 51of their vehicles dama ged. They detained 40 men.
[Protesters on the Marina Beach in Chennai had displayed pictures of late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, chief minister O Panneerselvam would later tell the state assembly in Jan 2017.
[Showing photos of the banners which had the pictures Osama, the chief minister said, "Some protesters demanded a separate Tamil Nadu nation, and there is photographic proof of some of them holding pictures of Osama. Some of them called for boycott of the Republic Day."... Various anti-social elements and organisations had infiltrated into the week-long protest on the Marina with the intention of diverting it, said Panneerselvam.] (B Sivakumar | TNN | Pro-jallikattu protesters displayed Osama pictures and demanded a separate TN nation, Panneerselvam says, Jan 27, 2017)
Demonstrators in Tirunelveli district decided to call off the protests
Superstar Rajinikanth a ppealed to the protesters to call off the agitation immediately and not to give any room for anti-social elements to capitalise on their hard-fought struggle earning goodwill and name and to tarnish the image of police force that gave protection to them during the days of struggle.
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act amended for TN
23 Jan [Evening] A bill to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 to make jallikattu a permanent sport in rural Tamil Nadu was passed by the state assembly unanimously in a special session on 23 Jan evening.
The two-day-old ordinance providing for jallikattu during Pongal became law on 23 Jan 2017, with the Tamil Nadu assembly passing the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Amendment) Bill 2017. The ordinance was issued on January 21.
The amended Act, which makes jallikattu a permanent sport in rural Tamil Nadu, was passed by the assembly unanimously at a special session on Monday evening.
On the objective of the Act, it said: “The state government has decided to exempt the conduct of jallikattu from the provisions of the said Central Act and, therefore, the government decided to amend the Act in its application to Tamil Nadu.“
The Bill defines jallikattu as an event involving bulls conducted with a view to follow tradition and culture on days from January to May in such places as notified by the state government. It includes jallikattu and its variants like manjuvirattu,' `vadamadu' and `erudhu vidum vizha,' all involving bulls and practised in different parts of Tamil Nadu. The Bill amends Sections 2, 3, 11, 22, 27 and 28 of the Act.
Introducing the Bill, which was passed by voice vote with all opposition parties supporting it, CM O Panneerselvam said: “Conduct of jallikattu has seen several hurdles since 2006 and finally in 2011, bull was included in the list of banned animals for sport. As the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act is in the concurrent list, even if the state amends the Act it needs to be signed by the President. But the 2009 Act enacted by the state govern ment (Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009) did not get the President's assent, and it was quashed by the Supreme Court.“
“As the SC is yet to give its judgment on PILs against removal of bulls from the list of performing animals, the state government decided to amend the Act with the Centre's help. It is only after I received an assurance from the Centre that it would support Tamil Nadu's steps to hold jallikattu, I took measures to promulgate the ordinance first and now the Bill to replace it,“ said the CM.
February 2017/ Judge’s receipt of PETA award challenged in HC
(Judge) Has Received HC Notice On PETA Award
Former Supreme Court judge Justice K S Panicker Radhakrishnan moved the SC on Friday seeking quashing of proceedings against him in the Madurai bench of the Madras HC, which has issued notice to him on a PIL asking him to return a PETA award received in 2015 several months after his retirement.
At the height of the pro-jallikattu agitation in Tamil Nadu, a 62-year-old agriculturist had filed a petition in the HC alleging that since a bench headed by Justice Radhakrishnan had banned use of bulls in jallikattu in May 2014 on petitions by Animal Welfare Board of India, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and others, the ex-SC judge committed constitutional impropriety by receiving PETA's `Man of the Year' award in 2015. The HC had issued notice to the ex-judge on January 31.
The agriculturist, Salai Chakrapani, alleged that by receiving the award for a judgment, the ex-judge had violated the constitutional provision which bars judges from receiving any favour from anyone for any judgment. He requested the HC to direct Justice Radhakrishnan to return the award.
Intrigued by the proceed ings against him, Justice Radhakrish nan rushed to the SC and cited Section 3 of Judges Protec tion Act, 1985, which says, “No court shall entertain or continue any civil or criminal proceeding against any person who is or was a judge for any act, thing or word committed, done or spoken by him when, or in the course of, acting or purporting to act in the discharge of his official or judicial duty or function.“
Referring to additional constitutional protection giv en to judges to independently discharge their duties, Justice Radhakrishnan said the HC had “unfortunately and irrationally“ drawn the proceedings without proper application of mind to the provisions of the Constitution and Judges Protection Act.
“Functions carried out by members of the judiciary are sensitive in nature and such action ought not to be degraded in the light of the vexatious and baseless petitions,“ he said.
Highlighting the irrationality of the petition filed against him, the ex-judge said he was felicitated as `Man of the Year' at a function organised by PETA on February 7, 2015, nearly nine months after he had retired from the SC.
GPS to track terrified bulls fleeing the arena, A/C vans to coax them
Terrified bulls flee the arena: GPS to track them, A/C vans to coax them
GPS to track jallikattu bulls
V Mayilvaganan,TNN | Jan 12, 2014 The Times of India
MADURAI: After losing several bulls that ran out of jallikattu arenas over the years, bull owners have now turned to technology to ensure they don't lose their prized animals. Now, a GPS gadget attached to the bulls will help their owners track them on an Android mobile phone.
A group of bull owners from Sivaganga and Trichy will use the GPS equipment, which will be tied around the bulls' neck, when they enter the jallikattu arena. With the bulls costing between Rs75,000 and Rs2.5 lakh, their owners are not ready to take chances.
Jallikattu bulls run into villages, fields or adjoining forests. Dozens of bulls that ran away to the forests adjoining villages in Sivaganga have now become wild and can't be caught. Some bulls have strayed and fallen into wells and drowned.It takes at least 10 people to search them and for many days. At the end there is no guarantee that they will be found, say the joint secretary of Jallikattu Pathukappu Kuzhu; and the state secretary of Veera Vilayattu Pathukappu Peravai
The bull owners have bought eight gadgets for (Rs?) 8,000 (each?) and have planned to buy more after studying the effectiveness at Alanganallur jallikattu during Pongal.
The bull owners plan to approach the Animal Welfare Board of India and state animal husbandry department for permission.
An airconditioned caravan was organised to take the bulls for jallikattu competitions. The caravan will also have a monitor connected to the blue tooth gadget on the bulls.
An animal husbandry department official said they would have to consider some factors before giving the device the nod. "We have to see if the gadget affects the animals' behaviour, the official said.
Jallikattu organisers and animal rights activists have been at loggerheads with the latter moving courts in the past to ban the event. At present, jallikattu, perceived as an expression of their cultural tradition by peasant communities, are allowed only after the organisers follow stringent conditions meant to ensure that the animals are not ill-treated.
Virumaandi: the bull
The Times of India Jan 11 2016
Ramu, the jallikattu bull in the Tamil film Virumaandi was once abandoned by its owner, who went bankrupt following the ban on the sport. After changing hands, Ramu was headed for the slaughterhouse before he was providentially rescued by the Cattle Care Welfare Trust in Coimbatore.
Currently a resident of the Vellinviri Goshala along with 206 other Jallikattu bulls and 10 `rekhala' bull racers, Ramu and others will have a less sedate life with the lifting of the ban.Since his rescue from the slaughterhouse at Aviniyapuram in February , Ramu has been called Virumandi or the Avaniyapuram Kalai.
Twenty years old, Ramu is still a sight to behold and stands at an impressive 14 hands (1.42 m) and weighs 1,200kg. With his massive horns, the `karuppu mayil' (his coat colour) is still a raging tornado, says his caretak ers at Vellinviri. “He has a bad temper and does not let any strangers come near. He does not mind tossing up the boys just for fun,“ A Niza muddin, trust president, says.
Ramu was owned by V Santhosh from Virudhunagar who had to give the bull to Kannan in 2011. Kannan, who had the bull for another four years, could not sustain its maintenance and upkeep which can be between `3,500 and `5000 a month for feed alone.
'Fox Jallikattu' on Kaanum Pongal in Salem
A Jallikattu-like event, performed with a fox was organised at Chinnamanaickenpalayam near Salem on 18 Jan 2017, in the presence of forest officials.
SALEM: Forest officials on Wednesday allowed the villagers of Chinnamanaickenpalayam near Salem to organise a Jallikattu-like event with a fox. Although foxes come under the Wildlife Protection Act, the event was organised with forest officials watching. The officials tied the animal's mouth to prevent it from biting the participants.
The event, dubbed as 'fox Jallikattu', is conducted every year on the day of 'Kaanum Pongal' at various places in Salem district.
On 18 Jan 2017, the villagers brought the fox in front of a temple and worshipped it. The animal was garlanded with flowers. Then the hind leg of the fox was tied with a thin rope while villagers participating in the 'fox Jallikattu' chased the animal trying to catch it, according to A Suresh Balan, one of the organisers of the event.
He said the fox will be released into the forest.