The banning of Jallikkattu,the ancient Tamil game of taming a Bull and a cultural symbol which was also used as a test of Man’s valor ( the Girl was given in marriage to the one who tames the Bull)
This practice was also used to segregate a virile Bull so that it may be used for mating with Cows to produce healthy cattle.
Now out of concern ( ?) For animals, the Government of India has effectively banned it, hiding behind the court, while the courts, which is generous in doling out advices to the Executive, ducked the issue stating that it can not be expected to rule over the issue.
Why the sudden concern for Bulls?
The neglect of Indian cattle.
INDIAN COW breeds are a crucial part of the country’s ecological heritage. Since ancient times, different breeds were developed in different parts of the subcontinent by selecting the best animals for preferred traits such as their milking capacity, draught power, feeding requirements, capacity to adapt to local weather, immunity, etc. The purity of such breeds was maintained with great discipline and wisdom in each geographical pocket known as a breeding tract.
Over time, unfortunately, this social rigour was lost. Indiscriminate mating between different breeds and inferior animals within the same breed resulted in a high number of cattle of poor genetic quality. These non-descript animals today accounts for 80 percent of India’s cattle. At no point, in the past 65 years, did any government think of stepping in to preserve the careful science of crossbreeding.
But this dismal scenario is still not an accurate picture of the desi cow. India has 37 pure cattle breeds. Five of these — Sahiwal, Gir, Red Sindhi, Tharparkar and Rathi — are known for their milking prowess. A few others, such as Kankrej, Ongole and Hariana, belong to dual breeds that have both milch and draught qualities; ie, they are good plough animals. The rest are pure draught breeds.
But when official data records the average yield of indigenous cows as 2.2 kg daily, it clubs these dual breeds and non-dairy draught breeds together with the five top milch breeds. This deliberately undermines the performance of India’s best milch cows — such as Girs and Rathis — to establish the supremacy of the exotic cattle.
“Over the years, this has justified a policy that discards Indian milch breeds to promote exotic crossbreed animals. Due to this neglect, quality desi cows have become rare. So dairy farmers are easily lured to exotic cattle that start milking at a younger age but often trip soon after,” explains a senior official in the Department of Animal Husbandry, Union Ministry of Agriculture, on condition of anonymity.’
History of Jallikkattu.
Over time, the skill of embracing the hump to slow the bull down is celebrated and contests are held to showcase the skill. This is called Eru Thazhuvuthal meaning ‘Embracing a Bull’. Indus Valley civilisation is known for being one of the most advanced and sophisticated amongst its contemporaries. The sport of Eru Thazhuvathal is celebrated so much that they decide to make a seal depicting the same.
During the rule of the Nayak kings, gold coins, wrapped in a piece of cloth were tied to the horns, and the tackler hung on to the hump of the bull and untied the knot to get at the prize. Jalli/salli means ‘coins’, and kattu is ‘tied’. A small bag of coins was tied to the horns of the bulls, which the players claimed as a prize. The only way you could do that was to embrace the hump of the bull long enough to grab the bag without getting hit.
Now a token cloth is tied in the horns which the tackler collects as a trophy. The focal point of the event is the vaadi vaasal, the entrance. The bulls are let through this entrance, into the track, where the players wait. The track is usually the main street of the village, with the side lanes blocked. The event begins with the visit of village elders, led by a band drummer, to the temple of the village deity. The Koyil Kaalai (temple bull) of the host village is allowed first andm as a mark of respect and gratitude to the host village, players allow it a free run and don’t touch it. Today, educated youngsters from these villages are also involved in the rearing of bulls and participate in the sport. All classes of people and all castes take part in Jallikattu. There is an egalitarian perspective where it’s humans and their cattle, nothing more nothing less.
An ancient heritage that survived colonial period
Jallikattu is an ancient sport. The seals of the Indus Valley civilisation depict it, which is proof that this sport was in vogue 5,000 years ago. Ancient Tamil poetry, known as Sangam literature (2nd BCE – 2nd CE), has many detailed references to Eru Thazhuvuthal (hugging the bull).
The fact that English colonial administrators have also written about jallikattu tells us the sport was played continuously down the ages.
For the following account of the jellikattu or bull-baiting, which is practiced by the Maravans, I am indebted to a note by Mr. J. H. Nelson. “This,” he writes, “is a game worthy of a bold and free people, and it is to be regretted that certain Collectors (District Magistrates) should have discouraged it under the idea that it was somewhat dangerous.
The jellikattu is conducted in the following manner. On a certain day in the year, large crowds of people, chiefly males, assemble together in the morning in some extensive open space, the dry bed of a river perhaps, or of a tank (pond), and many of them may be seen leading ploughing bullocks, of which the sleek bodies and rather wicked eyes afford clear evidence of the extra diet they have received for some days in anticipation of the great event.
The owners of these animals soon begin to brag of their strength and speed, and to challenge all and any to catch and hold them; and in a short time one of the best beasts is selected to open the day’s proceedings. A new cloth is made fast round his horns, to be the prize of his captor, and he is then led out into the midst of the arena by his owner, and there left to himself surrounded by a throng of shouting and excited strangers.
Unaccustomed to this sort of treatment, and excited by the gestures of those who have undertaken to catch him, the bullock usually lowers his head at once, and charges wildly into the midst of the crowd, who nimbly run off on either side to make way for him. His speed being much greater than that of the men, he soon overtakes one of his enemies and makes at him to toss him savagely. Upon this the man drops on the sand like a stone, and the bullock, instead of goring him, leaps over his body, and rushes after another. The second man drops in his turn, and is passed like the first; and, after repeating this operation several times, the beast either succeeds in breaking the ring, and galloping off to his village, charging every person he meets on the way, or is at last caught and held by the most vigorous of his pursuers.
Strange as it may seem, the bullocks never by any chance toss or gore any one who throws himself down on their approach; and the only danger arises from their accidentally reaching unseen and unheard some one who remains standing.
After the first two or three animals have been let loose one after the other, two or three, or even half a dozen are let loose at a time, and the scene quickly becomes most exciting. The crowd sways violently to and fro in various directions in frantic efforts to escape being knocked over; the air is filled with shouts, screams, and laughter; and the bullocks thunder over the plain as fiercely as if blood and slaughter were their sole occupation. In this way perhaps two or three hundred animals are run in the course of a day, and, when all go home towards evening, a few cuts and bruises, borne with the utmost cheerfulness, are the only results of an amusement which requires great courage and agility on the part of the competitors for the prizes – that is for the cloths and other things tied to the bullocks’ horns – and not a little on the part of the mere bystanders. The only time I saw this sport (from a place of safety) I was highly delighted with the entertainment, and no accident occurred to mar my pleasure. One man indeed was slightly wounded in the buttock, but he was quite able to walk, and seemed to be as happy as his friends.”
(From Edgar Thurston, Castes & Tribes of Southern India,Vol 5.)
This is concrete evidence to prove that jallikattu has been part of the long heritage of the country. One strong characteristic of life in India is the persistence of certain social institutions, the origins of which are lost in pre-history. Though the profile of these practices change, they retain their essential features. Jallikattu is one such precious heritage that has been preserved over millennia and our duty is to take this forward. Of course we should have rules and restrictions for the conduct of the event but Jallikattu should go on……’
Jallikkattu ,apart from having been a part of Sanatana Dharma as evidenced by the finding of Eru Thazhuvudhal’ the art of taming the Bull,Jallikkattu was initiated by Lord Krishna which was followed Spain and some Latin American countries.
The important place where the jallikkatu takes place is Alanganaalur,near madurai, Tamil Nadu, India.
The Bullfighting practice has been in vogue in many ancient cultures.
The bullfighting in Spain and Latin American countries is called corrida de toros.
Lord Krishna married a Pandyan princess, had a daughter through her, Pandya and gifted her 100 Yadava families as dowry.
Krishna also attended Tamil Sangam as a Guest.
Please read my posts on this.
Why Jallikkattu is being banned?
The second group is the dairy lobby, which wants all native breeds to be eradicated. Events like jallikattu throw a spanner in their plans of creating commercial dairy farms with imported breeds just like in the West.
Beef exporters also benefit from a ban on jallikattu and other events. Farmers bring their cattle to be sold in weekly/monthly and annual shandies. Brokers will take the cattle from the farmers and hold them to be displayed to prospective buyers. Buyers fall into 3-4 categories: (1) The jallikattu enthusiast who will buy the bulls and male calves mostly; (2) Buyers of oxen for farming/transport; (3) Buyers of cows for breeding and household usage; (4) Beef traders who are mostly if not all agents of export companies and slaughter houses based in Kerala. They buy all cattle as they are only interested in meat.
When a ban on jallikattu is in place, the simple supply-demand equation gets skewed. There are no takers in the first category, which means the bulls will only sought by the fourth category i.e. beef traders. With no demand from jallikattu enthusiasts, the price of such prized bulls falls to rock bottom. By killing the market for bulls to be used in jallikattu, the animal rights activists are directly responsible for sending them to slaughter. There is a huge demand for Bos Indicus variety beef in the Gulf, Malaysia and Western countries. It is considered an exotic and healthy meat, just like country chicken.
How Jallikkattu is conducted?
The fist misconception is that jallikattu has anything in common with the Spanish bullfight. The two are very different. The sport in India is not about baiting or injuring the bull but of “embracing the bull”.
Does it harm the bull?
It is said that cruelty is meted out to animals by giving them alcohol, prodding and twisting their tails etc, that organisers beat the bulls, stuffing something pungent in their nostrils, confine them in a dark, suffocating place in order to enrage them.
The reality is different. Amidst all the regulations and scrutiny, which bull owner will risk giving alcohol to the bulls? Glucose water is given to them for stamina. Out of the 10,000 instances of bulls let out a year, the anti-jallikattu activists have produced images/videos of may be 7-8 bulls where an offence might have taken place. They have the power to identify the owner and take action against him under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Each bull is registered with the authorities, with photographs as well as the owner’s information.
Every rule has an exception. We regulate to curtail the exceptions, but not to end the sport. The approach of the activists from day one has been to end jallikattu at any cost.
Are there other means of conserving the breeds?
Each breed has evolved over several millennia and in a distinct way. One method of breed conservation will not work in another area, with another breed. Every place in the world where indigenous people have lived with their livestock, there are celebratory showcase events post-harvest like kambala buffalo water racing in the Dakshin Kannada region, Ongole stone pulling in central and coastal Andhra, rekla races in western Tamil Nadu and Theni, bailgada in Maharashtra with the Killari breed. Each event has evolved locally and has stood the test of time. In-situ conservation is the best method for conserving any breed. The lifetime and health of the species is extended only due to such events.
How is the game played?
Bulls are brought to the arena the previous day and tied in coconut groves around the village. Fodder is brought along and water is provided by the host villagers. Sometimes fodder is also provided. A team of veterinarians, animal welfare officials inspect the bulls and give a medical certificate. Before the event starts, they are lined up in batches of 15 close to the rear side of the vaadi vaasal.
After the temple bull of the host village has left the arena, each bull is taken into the vaadi vaasal, where Animal Welfare officers are present. The nose rope of the bull is cut and the bull is free to run. Young bulls and untrained ones participating for the first few times hesitate to leave the vaadi and are prodded by their owners. It is not easy to move them as they weigh anywhere between 250-350 kilos. The experienced bulls (which have long memories) are familiar with jallikattu events and offer their head to the owners to cut the rope. They plan their exit from the vaadi vaasal and time their jump to avoid the players. These are intelligent animals and have evolved in this environment over millennia..
The sport consists of holding on to the hump of the bull and running along with it for a given distance usually about 20-30 meters which is covered in barely 10-20 seconds.
After leaving the arena, they go to a barricaded collection area of about 44,000 sq. ft. where experienced herders await the owners. Owners follow the bulls from the vaadi into the collection arena, this takes about 5-10 minutes. Once they enter, the herders help the owners rope in the bulls and take them out of the collection arena. 1-2 bulls will refuse to be roped and charge at everyone, some of them jump out of the collection area and make a run for it. Most of them head in the direction of their villages. There is the occasional injury due to the bulls not being roped. ‘
Source for Jallikkattu quotes. https://thewire.in/19157/banning-jallikattu-will-decimate-indias-indigenous-cattle-breeds/
Will be writing more on quality of Milk, track record of PETA, Questions for thosecwhocadvocate Banning.