JALLIKATTU – Traditional Bull Taming Fest
Author: Ms.Lepakshi Thakur, Chanderprabhu Jain College of Higher Studies
The word jallikattu or sallikattu is derived from salli meaning ‘coins’ and kattu meaning ‘package’, which denotes a prize of coins that are tied to the bull’s horns and that participants attempt to rescue.
Jallikattu (or sallikkattu), also known as eru thazhuvuthal and manju virattu, is a traditional demonstration in which a bull, such as the Pulikulam or Kangayam breeds, is on the loose into a crowd of people, and multiple human contestants try to grab the large hump on the bull’s back with both arms and hang on to it while the bull tries to escape. Partakers hold the hump for as long as possible, trying to bring the bull to a stop.
Jallikattu is usually practiced Tamil Nadu, a state of India all through the Tamil Classical Period (400-100 BC) as a part of Pongal festivities on Mattu Pongal day, which occurs once a year in January. It is a platform for demonstration of bravery and prize money was introduced for encouragement
As there were instances of injury and death associated with the sport, both to the animals and to the contestants forced into it, animal rights organizations have called for a prohibition to the sport, resulting in the court banning it several times over the past years.
- Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja & Ors.
Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act to ban exercise and display of bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers, and dogs. In 2011, the MoEF later amended section 22 of the PCA Act to include “bulls,” thus banning their display or exercise as performing animals. To defend the interest of all the stakeholders, the Government has offered to discharge bulls contributing to Jallikattu in the State of Tamil Nadu from the amendment. The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), the complainant in the case, is a statutory advisory body directing the Government and opposed the Jallikattu exemption.
This specific case had two arrays of cases. One stimulating the Division Bench Judgment of the Madras High Court, stimulating the soundness of the Tamil Nadu Registration of Jallikattu Act and few writ petitions challenging the validity of Ministry of Environment and Forests(hereafter referred to as MoEF) Notification and another case challenging the Division Bench Judgment of the Bombay High Court. Maintaining animal rights; the Supreme Court on banned hundreds of year’s old Jallikattu festivities in Tamil Nadu and adjoining states.
- What were the issues raised?
An integral part of Tamil culture
A lot of jallikattu enthusiasts have advanced the culture fight. For many demonstrators, the battle for jallikattu is a battle for Tamil pride. They say, is an eras-longstanding tradition, and that it’s an integral part of the Tamil culture.
The Supreme Court, on its part, said in July last year that “the mere presence of tradition can’t justify practices,” in reply to the Tamil Nadu government’s argument that the sport should be permissible because it’s a cultural practice.
A ‘barbaric’ sport
Many opponents of jallikattu say it’s a harsh sport that involves disturbing a terrified animal in a ring.
But others strike down this view. It’s a mistaken view that the bull-taming sport is a barbaric one. The act includes taking up the bull, rather than inflicting cruelty on them.
When the Supreme Court has forbidden the sport, it was on grounds that it’s a practice of brutality to animals. And in the former years the apex court’s ban, bull owners took to feeding the bulls irritating solutions and rubbing chili on the animal’s bodies to intensify their aggression.
A dangerous practice
Between 2010 to 2014, there were allegedly around 1,100 injuries and 17 deaths because of jallikattu. Over 200 people have died throughout the sport over the past two spans. Yesterday, too, two people died during a jallikattu event in Tamil Nadu’s Pudukottai district.
- Facts of the case
- The ban on Jallikattu itself has been on and off ever since 2006.
- In 2006, the Madras High Court has forbidden it after the death of a young bystander.
- In 2009, the ban was afterward raised with the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009.
- In 2011, the Environment Ministry at the Center issued a notification especially stating ‘bulls’.
- But even after the 2011 notice, the Jallikattu practice sustained to be held because under the Tamil Nadu Regulation Act No. 27 of 2009
- After it was found that the code of practice was not being followed and that bulls were being threatened to cruelty as defined under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, both the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed a petition.
- On 8 January 2017, numerous protesters led a march at Chennai Marina conflicting the ban on Jallikattu.
- Sections and Articles applied
The apex court had stated to Article 25 (Right to Freedom of Religion) and Article 29(1) (Protection of the Constitution and said they may not permit states to make such laws.
The Supreme Court had earlier terminated the Tamil Nadu government’s plea pursuing an analysis of the 2014 judgment forbidding the use of bulls for jallikattu occasions in the state and bullock cart races through the country.
The court in its 2014 judgment had said bulls cannot be used as carrying out animals, other for jallikattu occasions or bullocks carts races in Tamil Nadu, Maharastra or elsewhere in the country and had disqualified their use across the country.
Article 29 (1) is a fundamental right guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution of India to protect the educational and cultural rights of citizens.
However, to protect the interest of minorities, Articles 29 (1) mandates that “any sections of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a district language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same”.
The Supreme Court sided with the claimant (AWBI), in view that Jallikattu did not establish an exemption to the PCA Act based on human requirements since the pain, suffering, and apprehension caused to bulls during Jallikattu occasions is especially for human desire and can hence be ignored.
The court in the same case reflected the rights of animals as a “Constitutional Rights”. The Court also brought into the part of Article 51-A (g)[vii]&(h)[viii] , which are Fundamental Duties on the part of the citizens. The impact of the case was remarkable in the States, especially those of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. The state income has reduced since a large number of viewers do not come to attend the Jallikattu every year.
It is undeniably a ‘dangerous sport’, both for the bulls and the people viewing it. The demand whether the law or custom which has been prevailing for hundreds of years must overcome or not is the issue in this case. Unquestionably the law must prevail. Seeing the fact that numerous people injured and that lives are lost and moreover, the fact that cruel malice and annoyance are shown to these voiceless living beings of the earth, the judgment of the court can be justified to prohibit the much forsaken “Jallikattu and Bullock Cart racing.
The legal situation adjoining jallikattu is so far not visibly resolved.
If Jallikattu is a portion of Tamil culture, it has to be accompanied by protection to animals and human beings. It should be controlled by an authority. Age old traditions and cultures need to be abandoned if they are in abuse of the regulations of the land.