It was the year 2006 when Jallikattu was banned for the very first time in the history by Madras High court which was revoked three years later by Tamil Nadu govt passing a regulation in favor of the sport which in 2011 was banned completely by UPA government. For the readers who do not know what this stir is, it is bull taming sport where participant try to hug a specifically bred bull for as long as they can, even riding to grab the flag placed on bull’s horns.
The reasons why people protesting are because of the cultural traits it has. Jallikattu signifies a time when there were no mechanized means of irrigation and bulls were used to plow the fields followed by seeding. The cattle were set to lose far away from the land to graze and after the harvest is complete farmers are needed those cattle back so the youth of the village would unite on a mission to bring back the stocks. Usually, there were no strings, ropes to catch the bulls so, the youngsters tried jumping on the humps to stop them. Sometimes owner used to put a bounty on the bulls hence the name ‘Jallikattu’. Jalli means coin and Kattu is a pouch. In simpler forms handing the coins in a pouch to the catcher. Since then it is believed to be one of the most significant fests in Tamil Nadu.
According to a survey, 48 people has died participating in it between 2008 to 2014. That is why in 2014 a PIL by animal activists made Supreme court to ban the traditional sport for good and in favor of the very people. But in 2016 the environment ministry modified its certain notification giving a go to the sport in contrary to the decision by the Apex court of the country. The verdict was then challenged by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) asking for the ban to continue which later they got with The Supreme court questioning the need for such festivals.
The issue was already sensitive only to fumed by a political fight over Jallikattu, M.K Stalin blamed AIDMK of not doing enough for the sport. The protest began in parts of Tamil Nadu and arrest of 200 protestors raised the state’s voice. Suddenly, Chennai’s marina beach was flooded with campaigners. Movie stars, singers, engineers, and politician, of course, united to lift the ban on Jallikattu. The movement picked up the pace and like fire spread all across the Tamil Nadu in no time. Although the protest was peaceful and leaderless it still managed to gather more than 4 lakhs people in 100 locations or more. Political parties found it an overwhelming opportunity to woo the protestors and assured the state to discuss the matter with the Centre pressuring them with AIDMK’s 50 Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs.
O Panneerselvam, Chief Minister, TN, visited PM Modi to ask the President for an ordinance allowing the state to hold the sport. He also assured the youth on a campaign that the ban will be lifted completely. Everything led to complete disobedience of Supreme court’s decision and sport was conducted traditionally in Raapusal village in Pudukottai district of Tamil Nadu in which two people lost their lives and more than hundred were concluded injured. Apart from the Pseudo-science fact behind the game it also has life threatening capabilities which the Centre and state government was well aware of and history never lies. The step was to turn Tamil sentiments in the favor of AIDMK and DMK. Both the parties digressed from the appropriateness to pass the regulation while Modi-led government played John Cena (because you can’t see him) but without action. Who is to blame now for the lives lost, the protestors, the government or the vote bank politics this country has deep-rooted.
Clearly, this wasn’t the only time when people were incited towards something irrational. Those celebrities who came out in support of the sport and made a stand, will they tell the world why those two people had to lose their lives in the name of a hollow and outdated culture. There was no need to carry out the thousands year old practice which was not only irrational but also a cruel tradition of taming bull. The specifically bred bulls are made to ingest drugs and alcohol which starts a series of panicky in them. Lately, two intoxicated bulls got out of control and injured onlookers and later killed by a train in Andhra Pradesh. To sanction such cruelty in the name of custom and generation old sport endangering lives and illogical explanation that this exercise helps in saving a particular breed of bulls was only an act of stupidity nothing more.
It also portrays Indian Government’s incapability to act rationale and not sentimental. Defying Supreme court’s order which was in favor of the people only and the two lost lives are on Modi-led govt’s conscience. More interesting will be to watch whether the protester, who demanded Jallikattu, will now campaign against the death of two tamers or the lost lives were less important than the age-old culture.