Jallikkattu or is a bull taming event held in Tamil Nadu on Mattu Pongal day as a part of the harvest festival celebrations. Pongal is celebrated over 4 days from 13th January to 16th January. Jallikattu is held on 15th January on Mattu Pongal day. There are three variants for Jallikattu :
- Vati Manju Viratu – The participants try to hold on to the bull for a specific time or distance.
- Veli Virattu – The bulls are released into an open field or ground and the participants try to control them.
- Vattam Manju Virattu – The bulls are tied to a rope and a player or a team of persons try to overpower the bulls for a specific time period.
Jallikkattu is an ancient sport and those who do this sport believe it to be a part of their tradition. The sport was brought to the attention of the public attention in 2004 when animal activists and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India started protesting against Jallikkattu. In 2008, the Animal Welfare Board of India under the Ministry of Environment and Forests filed a case in the Supreme Court, asking for a complete ban of Jallikkattu under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. Following this, the Supreme Court banned the sport in 2008.
In 2009, the Tamil Nadu government, after recognizing the cultural and traditional importance of Jallikkattu, enacted a law to regulate Jallikkattu so that they could request the Supreme Court to revoke the ban which the Supreme Court did. In 2013, PETA made a point of observation how the bulls were ill-treated even after the Supreme Court guidelines and Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikkattu Act 2009.
They showed how the bulls were purposely agitated and infuriated by rubbing chilli powder in their eyes so that it would cause more entertainment to the viewers. In 2016, Central government issued a notification allowing the practice of bull taming and Jallikkattu which was again opposed by PETA and Animal Welfare Board of India who responded by filing a case against the Centre for allowing Jallikkattu. In January 2017, the Supreme court declared that it cannot give a hurried judgement in order to accommodate the 2017 Jallikkattu festival on 15th January. Some places in Tamil Nadu proceeded on with Jallikkattu without waiting for the judgement. Nearly 20 lakh people participated in the Chennai Marina Beach rally expressing their support of the sport. The Tamil Nadu Electricity Board switched off the streetlights expecting the crowd to disperse but the protesters switched on their flashlights and continued their peaceful protest.In January 2017, The State passed the Jallikattu Bill bringing into effect the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 2017, thereby allowing the conduct of Jallikattu.
The next day the Animal Welfare Board of India and PETA challenged the Tamil Nadu Amendment Act, 2017 and the decision by the State to allow Jallikkattu. However, the Supreme Court refused to stay the new Act. In July, PETA released a documentary on YouTube from 5 sites where Jallikkattu was conducted. It showed how the bulls’ tailbones were broken, and how it injured humans. PETA requested the Supreme Court to ban the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 2017 because it was unconstitutional.
Those who are against Jallikkattu say that according to Article 51 (g) of the Indian constitution it is the duty of every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment and to have compassion for living creatures. Those who support Jallikkattu claim that it is an ancient sport and has cultural and traditional relevance. Article 29(1) states that anyone with a distinct language, script or culture of its own has the right to conserve it. Hence, they claim that since Jallikkattu is part of their culture for so many years, depriving them of their cultural practices would be curtailing their fundamental right. On 2 February 2018, the Supreme court referred to a constitution bench to decide whether Jallikkattu is depriving the Tamil community of their fundamental right under Article 29(1).
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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