Captivating facts of Jallikattu, part of Hindu festival

Jallikattu, bull tamers. Vijayvaani
Tamil nadu map.
Jallikattu, a popular rural sport in Tamil Nadu State, is more than 2000 year old. Unlike the highly publicized and  money-spinning professional western Rodeo shows, where the cowboys  show
Steer roping US
their skills in horse riding, bull riding, steer roping etc., 
 with perfect timing or the Spanish bull fighting where the
matador kills El Toro  slowly by sticking several sharp spears on its neck region in the presence of thousands of cheering spectators, jallikattu  can not be tagged as a cruel sport.
violence galore, Spanish bull fighting
Above image: 'The bull, symbol of courage and tenacity, is subjected to a degrading and painful spectacle. The animal is prepared: Vaseline is rubbed into his eyes and needles are stuck into his genitals, with the final purpose of getting him into the bullring weak and disoriented, facilitating the "slaughter" of the matador. Once the bullfight starts, the “picador”, knocks lances into the bull’s back, in order to cause intense pain in the neck of the animal that prevents it from looking up. Then the assistant matadors introduce the “banderillas” into the wound. Every movement of the bull is a martyrdom. Finally, the bull bleeds to death''.  ...
Juan Sebastián Basto Hernández (

Is it bravery?spanish bullfighter,bull dying in pain.
  The spectacle of Spanish bull fight involving more than two people - matadors and a picador is a nauseating experience. Compared to this barbaric act as depicted in the images above, in the name of Spanish culture, what justification is there to ban it?  PETA 's CEO says they are going  to fight it out in the Supreme court in the near future regarding the recent legislation passed in the Tamil Nadu State Assembly. It will be something like opening the Pandora's box.

Jallicattu is not a pompous showbiz and is closely associated with the Hindu festival  of Pongal  or Sankranthi (in the the middle of January). Pongal is a harvest festival dedicated to the Sun god. In some places, it is a community sharing festival, a part of the new agricultural produce is also shared with animals. In rural Tamil Nadu and in many parts of India, the Hindus worship the cattle - cows from which we get a lot of food stuff. Equal importance is given to the bull which is associated with farm works. So, Jallicattu is a sort of a simple past time for the rural folks to indulge in a simple annual sport with the bulls. It has no money-spinning fancy clubs like basketball (NBA, USA), base ball, football or cricket. 

 Because of some stray incidents of people getting killed by the bull  and  bulls being subjected to various forms of cruelty, 
not withstanding the fact that in many places Jallicattu  events are conducted peacefully, the Supreme Court of India banned Jallicattu
 invoking PCA Act ( saying that bulls cannot be used as performing animals including in bullock cart races;  sections 3, 11, and 22). This ban on a traditional sport, part of a particular culture caused widespread protest by the Tamil-speaking people in Tamil Nadu, across India and in many countries. The entire state protested peacefully more or less in a dharmic, Gandhian way for a few weeks. Unfortunately, because of the intrusion of some bad people - rowdies, anti-social stooges, cast-offs, instigated by a few opportunistic politicians, the peaceful protest, all of a sudden,  showed its ugly head. The state government, without wasting time took right the democratic process by passing a resolution approved by the governor. AT New Delhi, once certain amendments are made to the acts pertaining to Jallicattu, it will get the final ascent from the Indian President.

Exciting facts of Jallicattu:

01.  According to ancient Tamil Sangams, this practise is called  
Yeru thazhuvuthal, literally "bull embracing"( yeru means bull, thazhuvuthal means  embracing or hugging)

02. The  term Jallikattu  or Sallikattu is of recent origin meaning coins in a purse tied to the bulls' horns. In Tamil salli  means coins and kattu means a small package or purse containing coins  and that participants attempt to retrieve the purse from the raging bull.

03. Manju virattu  literally means "bull chasing" and is not widely used.

 04. Jallikattu  practised during the Tamil classical period (400-100 BC) became a symbol of bravery and the prize money was introduced to encourage this sport. Way back during the Madurai Nayak period, they used to keep cold coins in a bag and tied it in the bull's horns.

05. Evidences suggest the prevalence of bullfighting in the ancient civilization. A cave painting near Madurai, Tamil Nadu, is believed to be 2500 years old. 

06. In many places like  Madurai, Thanjavur, and Salem
Vadi majuviraṭṭu  is the most common form of Jallikattu. The bull is released from a closed space (vadi vasal) and the bull tamers  attempt to wrap their arms or hands around the hump of the bull and hold on to it to up to three wild jumps to win the award.

 07. In vadi vasal type of jallikattu, mind you, only one person is allowed to attempt at a time and survive the three jumps or the entire run hanging on to the hump of the raging bull.

 08. Veli viraṭṭu, a  variant of  vadimanju virattu follows the same rules. In this case, the bull is released into the open ground. This is popular in the districts of Sivagangai and Madurai.

09. The disqualification criteria are if the contestants hold the bull by the tail or neck or horns. They should hang on only to the hump for 30 seconds or survive 15 feet distance whichever is longer when the bull is trying to escape. The bull will be the winner, if no body can hold its hump or hang on to it for 30 seconds.

10.  A Bos indicus bull, commonly known as the Kangayam breed is mainly used for jallicattu, Victorious bulls are selected for breeding purposes. They are used as studs.

 11. There are some bad incidents in Jallicattu to make the bulky animal run by prodding the bull with sharp sticks or scythes, twisting of the tail which can fracture the bone, and biting of the bull's tail. Besides, there  are also reports of the bulls being forced to drink alcohol to disorient them, or chili peppers being rubbed in their eyes to aggravate the bull. However, such nasty stray incidents are triggered by  some selfish, money minded groups

12.  It is true participants  without knowing the psychology of bulls get killed by poor handling. In the past, bull handlers knew the skills well.

13.  Unlike the bullfighting in Spain or Mexico, the bull is not killed here. In Spain and in South America, the bull gets stuck with several sharp spears with  blood gushing  out and the animal faces a painful and slow death. No such things happen here in Tamil Nadu.

14. Rodeo is banned in the UK and in the Netherlands. In the USA, Canada, and Mexico, the Rodeo shows, steer wrestling or bulldogging event and team roping are being questioned by the animal rights group.

Some additional interesting facts:

01. Surprisingly, bulls are being taken care of by the rural women folks. They give them good bath, feed them well regularly and once in a while do pujas. They feed them first and then only  eat. 

Native breeds of Tamil Nadu.The Hindu
02. The native breeds of  Tamilnadu are Alambadi, Bargur, Kangayam, Pulikulam (Jallikattu), Umblachery and Vechur (native of kerala). Organizations like PETA, complaints keep coming, export the Indian  stud bulls and import less inferior Jersey breeds that produce A1 milk in large quantity, but poor in quality.  People from Tamil Nadu expect the Indian government to safeguard the Indian breeds and ban orgnizations like PETA  that are functioning with a selfish motive. Since the native breeds have a big hump, they get  more energy from the sun and the quality of cow's milk of Indian breeds will be good. Milk production may be less, but Indian cows' milk production period will last much longer than the Jersey breeds. Artificial insemination should be avoided for breeding of farm animals as it is genetically tampered with and unnatural.
Jallikattu & spanish bull fighting. SlideShare

03.  According to the Hinduism, bull (nandi) is the vahana (mount) of lord Shiva and in all temples of Shiva in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere one will see the stone image of the bull.
Gangaikondachola Puram temple bull,
04. Like cows, bull is an object of divinity. At the Hindu temple, people pray to nandi Bhagavan (bull god)  when they get into the  temple. The Nandi shrine is always facing the main deity.
second largest. big temple bull, thanjavur. YouTube
05. The second largest bull is in Tamil Nadu at the Thanjavur Bragadeshwar temple. It is entirely made of monolithic stone of granite - the oldest rock formation in the world.
largest bull in India / Nandi at Lepakshi, Andhra

The first largest nandi / bull (4.5m high and 8.23m long) in India is
in the Veerabadra temple, at  Lapakshi in Ananthapur district, Andhra State, S.India.
bull/nandi. Pradosham,Thiuvannamalai temple.  Om Arunachala
Pradosha or Pradosham  is a bimonthly special worship of Lord Shiva the thirteenth day of every fortnight in Hindu calendar. The auspicious 3 hour period, 1.5 hours before and after the sunset is the right time for worship of Lord Shiva. During pradosha, Nandi (the sacred bull of Shiva) in all the Shiva temples in South India, is  first worshipped with flowers, fruits and Annam (cooked rice).The festival idol of Shiva (utchavar) with Parvathi in a sitting pose on Nandi is taken as a procession on the temple complex. People in thousands attend  to see the Pradosha Kala Puja. So, the bull is given much importance in Hinduism.

Soil experts say Indian soil is very much affected because of
overuse of   fertilisers. When more bulls are used for farm works, the more productive the soil will become because cow dung makes a good manure. We will get quality vegetables, rice, etc.