Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Time to shed a tear for the unlucky bull

This is a report from The Hindu about Jallikattu. According to Wikki, "Jallikattu is a South Indian celebration involving bull taming, somewhat similar to the Spanish running of the bulls. It is held in the villages of Tamil Nadu on the eve of Mattu Pongal, one of the four days of Pongal festival (usually January 15 on the Western calendar). The one held in Alanganallur, near Madurai, is the most popular. This sport is also known as "Manju Virattu", meaning "chasing the bull".

In Jallikattu, an agitated bull is set to run in an open space. Several people, empty handed, try to tame it by controlling its horns. The winner gets a prize, which is generally tied to the horns of the bull. On most occasions, the bulls are intoxicated with alcohol. Only men take part in this macho game. Sometimes, more than one bull is loose at the same time. The village farmers take this game as a display of their masculine strength. Betting is also common during the game."

I find this one of the most cruel games. Organisations like PETA and SPCA must take up this issue and put an end to this barbaric 'game'. Here goes the report:

S. Annamalai

MADURAI: Every year, during Pongal, animal lovers make feeble protests against the cruel use of bulls in jallikattu in the southern districts.

The focus at these events tends to be on the human casualty and nobody takes note of the animals' agony, they lament.

In the last two days, three people were killed and hundreds injured in jallikattu at Palamedu and Alanganallur near Madurai. It is now touted as an international event, similar to Spanish bull fights. Historically, the sport was organised after harvest, during peacetime, by the rulers. The aim was to provide an opportunity for able-bodied youth to exhibit their valour.

The youth grappled with the ferocious bulls and those who tamed them got married to the daughter of the animal's owner.

The sport has degenerated over the years, with listless youth managing to hang on to the hump of the bulls for a distance of 50-100 metres to come out victorious.

Very few owners groom the bulls properly. They use unfair means to make the animals ferocious. The bulls are fed with arrack moments before they are let out into the arena.

Some inject the animals with a mixture of chilly powder on their back. Others bite their tail before releasing them for action.

The arenas are usually open grounds and not well marked. For the bulls, it is a run for their life.

The injuries they inflict on the players are in self-defence. Mob frenzy rules the arena, especially at Alanganallur.

No rules

The sport is devoid of rules. The youth seldom touch the horns of the bulls, and many catch them by their tail.

Rather than taking on the `matadors,' the bulls, let out one by one through a narrow gate, are desperate to get out of the arena. The combat is never one-on-one. It is the bull against a mob.

In the past, jallikattu has even triggered caste skirmishes in some places.

But the spectacle of a single bull slicing its way through a mob has become so popular that Alanganallur is being promoted as a favoured destination for foreign tourists.


Very few owners groom the bulls properly
The animals are fed with arrack before they are let out into the arena
Arenas are open grounds where mob frenzy rules