Jallikattu: Yes or No?

It’s not a “Bull Fighting game” in the first place, it is instead a “Bull Taming game” and there are massive differences in both

Author Sushobhit Saktawat
Widgets Magazine
So, let’s take the proverbial bull by the horns, first and foremost!

What are the arguments given by those who support or oppose the traditional festival? And what is the sanctity of those arguments?

The supporters say: “This is our culture”. Now this, at best, is a lame argument. Since, nobody can get away nowadays doing things, just by saying that this is “our culture”. Culture is not something which has closed its doors to all reforms and which refuses to evolve. Culture has never been a concrete hypothesis or phenomenon. Many cultural traditions across the world have evolved, or extinguished. And even if they are continuing, its never always the same.

However, having said that, cultural traditions have their own set of values, that add colors and meanings to the diversified civil conducts and that have a significance of a continuum, and they should always be celebrated, as long as, they don’t harm our eco-system in some way.

The animal rights activists outrightly call for a ban on Jallikattu, since they think that Jallikattu is unleashing sheer cruelty to animals. They even call it the Indian version of Bull Fight. Now, while the original Spanish version of the brutal and bloody Bull fight still goes on unobstructed, the Tamil version is suddenly facing a lot of trouble for its existence, while, heck, it's not even a “game” in the first place, it is instead a “game” and there are massive differences in both.

Even Wikipedia mistakes Jallikattu for a Bull Fighting game and calls it the Indian equivalent of the bloody Spanish sport. Well, while the bull is seriously hurt, brutally tortured and even killed in the Spanish Bull Fighting, no such thing happens in Jallikattu. It is a game meant to check out the breed of the beast, if anything. Not that the bulls don’t or can’t get hurt during the game, or for that matter, the Bull Tamers don’t or can’t hurt themselves fatally while playing Jallikattu, it is not a game which means to torture animals, in the first place, and this makes a lot of difference to the sanctity of discourse. This point can not be brushed aside.

There are people who say that they can’t stand Jallikattu since it is cruel. In a world, where animal slaughtering for “food habits” and animal sacrifice for “barbaric religious rituals” goes on happening without enough or slight protest, all this fuss around Jallikattu smells a rotten fish. The whole discourse reeks of hypocrisy. Is it an another attempt to undermine Indian’s or Hindu’s cultural tradition, a charge with it’s roots deep in the history of colonialism and secularism. There are so-called festival, where animals are butchered to such heinous extent that the roads and streets are flooded and choked by the blood of sacrificed beast! Is this happening in some other world or what?

Jallikattu is not just a game or a tradition for Tamilians, it is also the matter of their livelihood. The official website of Jallikattu festival has some interesting points to note. It tells us that a ban on Jallikattu will affect thousands of farmers dependent on the breed of cattle for their livelihood. A winning bull can fetch a farmer as much as Rs 2 lakh. Jallikattu is organised in 24 places between January 14 and January 17 in Tamil Nadu. An event can raise up to Rs 15 lakh in a village, says Balakumar Somu, a member of a Jallikattu organising committee. According to Somu, a technology professional, a farmer invests Rs 5,000-10,000 to buy a calf and his family nurtures it for 18 months into a healthy bull. Jallikattu is a platform to find buyers. Besides, In many villages a major source of income comes from creating decorative items, including special ropes, for the bulls and for the race.

It would be naïve to jump on to pre-mature conclusions without even pondering over enough on the given discourse. And our main arguments are still there to be contemplated and judged upon a logical merit :

1) Cultural traditions are not an absolute, they can and should evolve
2) There is nothing wrong if we go on celebrating our cultural traditions, as long as they do not intend to harm our ecosystem, and
3) We can’t be selective in our sympathies and if Jallikattu is wrong, then Spanish Bullfighting and Islamic Bakrid should have been already banned forever and for good.

You can decide on yourself now. Jallikattu : Yes or No!
Widgets Magazine
Widgets Magazine