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Pongal Jallikattu - Should it be Banned?

By December 18, 2011

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Pongal, the biggest festival in Tamil Nadu, is still a month away but anticipation is already building.

However, the anticipation has been replaced by angst in Madurai where the ancient sport of Jallikattu (bull taming) has traditionally been a prominent feature of Pongal celebrations.  In July, the Union Environment and Forest Minister issued a notice banning bulls from public performances following pressure over cruelty to the animals. However, conflict exists because the sport is still permitted under state legislation.

Jallikattu differs from popular bullfighting in Spain as the bull isn't killed and the participants don't use weapons. The bulls rarely suffer casualties. However, there's been a huge push in recent years to outlaw it. The resistance is substantial though, as Jallikattu is important part of Tamil culture -- even for future brides who identify potential suitors according to how brave they are in the arena.

For now, it's uncertain whether Jallikattu will be allowed during Pongal this January. Organizers have gone to Delhi in hopes of negotiating a favorable outcome.

But what do you think?

December 30, 2011 at 11:24 am
(1) Caroline says:

I pity these so called animal Lovers. Jallikattu is the oldest form of Animal welfare in Tamil Culture…. Dont raise brows….. There is always 50:50 chances for a bull to be born…. Ancient people used bullock carts and plowed feilds using bull, even then they could not have afforded to keep extra bulls…. I think Jallikattu made them affordable to keep good ones…. Now we dont use Bullock carts or plow field with bulls… Not all milkman can afford to keep bulls in this scenario y ban the second last purpose of having a bull….

December 30, 2011 at 11:28 am
(2) Caroline says:

people who dont take milk(saying vegan) or buy it from supermarkets dont know vat is happenning in bottomline…. If farmers cant afford to keep the bulls then what happens to the 50% of the bulls born? ….. Goes straight to slaughter… So thats vat these people want…. they ban bullock, bulls shud not be used on fields and now no jallikattu….. have any of u seen bull slaughtering? Stop being a pest and going back of fame…. Jallikattu shud not be banned, it is bull’s welfare of Tamil Nadu, instead design reasonable rules for this Art…..

February 19, 2012 at 5:27 am
(3) Carol says:

There is never any excuse for cruelty to defenceless creatures, whether those creatures are human or non-human. We must not do to others what we would be afraid to have done to us, it is cowardly. The more civilised a country, the more regard is paid to the welfare and protection of animals. For a country like India that gave the world an incredibly brave and compassionate person, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, it is unforgivable to be causing such suffering to these beautiful animals.

The history books of all countries are full of terrible cruelties inflicted on every species including our own. When you talk about tradition, this is what you mean, history! Just because something was done hundreds or thousands of years ago, does not mean it is right or that it should continue forever. We evolve and become enlightened all the time. Ban all festivals and rituals that cause suffering to animals.

The power of love must replace the love of power, for only then will we be truly civilised.

March 6, 2012 at 2:06 am
(4) James says:


Tradition is never an excuse for cruelty, nor is economic gain. If unethical practices were so easily justified we would all still be cannibals. As countries become more civilized, then their citizens have to accept progress and adapt to higher expectations of their behavior. As an example, brides no longer should be interested in a man’s physical bravery, in 2012 it’s his level of intelligence that really counts. However, I suppose it is helpful for potential brides, as they can now discount any males who turn up to fight the bulls!

January 10, 2013 at 11:41 pm
(5) KUMAR says:

Why this celebration should be panned we are tamilian we have to celebrete our rituals now a days our tamil ritual are diying everywhere in the world.nw we are living in mumbai and gujarat our great tamil people forgetting to speak our tamil language also.surely still 25 year we will have to search our tamil people and language. even though we are living in out side state we are eagering to celebrate our tamil festivals our level best.so pls understand everybody dont forget our rituals and language and our great traditional background

March 6, 2013 at 10:31 am
(6) vasudha says:

Jallikattu has to be banned. There is no place for it in a civilised society.

Just because something has been going on for generations, it does NOT make it right or justified.
We had the tradition of burning wives with their husbands when they died(sati), but we got rid of that “ritual” right?

And Mr. Kumar, is this really you want tamil culture to be remembered? Barbaric and cruel? It’s a disgusting ritual that needs to go, and we and the rest of the animal lovers and decent human beings of this country will see to that!

January 13, 2014 at 1:39 am
(7) mala says:

Agree with vasudha….Hinduism = LOVE every living creatures..not torture& cruelty!!!!!!

March 21, 2014 at 8:45 am
(8) Balakumar Somu says:

Jallikattu should not be compared to Bull fight at all. Jallikattu means embracing the bull. As the bull enters the arena, ONE sportsman tried to embrace the bull by holding on to the hump for a distance of about 50 feet or if the bull decides to stay put, he has to embrace it for about 10 seconds. Thats it! Then he is declared the winner or else the BULL is declared the winner !

There is NO form of cruelty happening in Jallikattu. For instance, the sportsman should NOT grab the bull by its horns or tail or neck or its legs. He can only embrace by holding on to its hump. Moreover Government Veterinarians have to certify the bull before AND after the event. Hence if the bull is injured or abused before or during the event, then the Veterinarian will detect it during the inspection and the bull owner is reported to the police.

As an animal rights activist myself, I have been visiting Jallikattus happening all over Tamilnadu and documenting all events. I can vouch for the fact that no torture happens in Jallikattu.

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