An unbiased discussion on Jallikattu

A Nation’s culture resides in the heart and soul of its people!

Culture shapes our values, belief, norms and, to a great extent, our attitudes and the way we perceive the world around us. And our motherland, the India is known for its unique blend of diverse culture. We take pride in our cultural practices, tradition, custom and we also feel an obligation for its preservence. Jallikattu is one among the prevalent Tamilian culture’s part. Jallikattu, Tamil Nadu’s version of ‘running of the bulls’ that has been banned by the Supreme Court, is back in the limelight once more.

All you need to know about the Jallikattu

Jallikattu could be referred to as bull taming event typically practiced in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations on Mattu Pongal day, third day of the four-day Pongal festival. The term ‘jallikattu’ is derived from the tamil words ‘jalli’ and ‘kattu’.  Jalli refers to gold or silver coins. Kattu means ‘tied’. Therefore, combined together it refers to coins being tied to the bulls’ horns, which is considered the prize for whoever tames the bull. The bull that wins is used to service numerous cows preserving the native breed. It is renowned as an ancient ‘sport’, believed to have been practised some 2500 years ago.

An Essential Role of Jallikattu

Jallikattu events provide the opportunity for bulls to be exhibited. Male calves are kept only in regions with a tradition of sports like jallikattu. In other regions, male calves are sold and taken to slaughter in only a few days. With the reduced availability of males, farmers have to go for artificial insemination. That is indeed a problem. But the region where Jallikattu is in Practice, the male calves are nurtured as part of their family. “For thousands of years, the agrarian society of Tamils has considered cattle as family members. The sole purpose of rearing a bull is for Jallikattu. The sport is a scientific method to pass on the best of genes to the next generation. It’s a method to identify the robust of bulls and create a superior genepool.” There are also some people who depend on the hefty prize money on bull taming. In reality they pursue it as a profession. And that cannot be ignored.

Chronological events concerning animal rights with a reference to Jallikattu

The bull fights, and bull races have been illegal since 1960 under the statute “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Further the bull performance was banned by the environment ministry itself in 2011, and the causing of unnecessary suffering that is inherent in Jallikattu.

In 2014, the court had banned Jallikattu on grounds of animal cruelty. The order, however, didn’t go down well with Tamil Nadu political parties.

Last year, SC had dismissed the plea of the state government seeking review of its 2014 judgement that banned bulls for Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu. The apex court had also earlier declared Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009 as constitutionally void, being violative or Article 254(1) of the Constitution.

On January 8, last year the Centre had issued a notification lifting ban on Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu with certain restrictions, which was challenged in the apex court by Animal Welfare Board of India, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, a Bangalore-based NGO and other.

On July 26, last year the apex court had said that just because the bull-taming sport of Jallikattu was a centuries-old tradition, it could not be justified.

A Bird’s view on constitution of India in consonance with ongoing debate

Article 48 and Article254(2) have been given reference on such debatable issues. Article 48 of the Constitution requires to the state to “endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle”. The later one Article 254(2) talks at length about how in the matter mentioned in concurrent list if decision of state and central government are different then central government decision shall prevail. Both provisions cannot be overlooked. The state needs to build a way out that will be going through both places.

Democracy gives right to differ but definitely in reasonable manner

Those who have batted for the “sport”, have usually done so saying it is part of the state’s culture much in the manner gory bull-fights and Pamplona’s running of the bulls are in Spain or rodeo is in parts of the US. We don’t need to take such defence like somebody powerful than you involves questionable short of activities doesn’t mean we should emulate. A bad will always be bad. Indian culture is inherently kind in nature. So these people should not say at least now the Jallikattu in recent version is brutal.

There is no doubt that jallikattu, translated as bull-hugging, is a cultural phenomenon singular to Tamil Nadu as is camel racing to Rajasthan or Gujarat or ritual animal sacrifice in Assam, none of the latter being banned practices. What kind of hugging happens by way pulling the tame of bull, exposing him to various torturous circumstances that disorient them?

We successfully banned child marriage, abolished Sati pratha, initiated widow remarriage, and numerous as such with the passing of time then why not the Jallikattu can be dealt in such manner? The blanket ban also won’t work as it worked in Sati Pratha and Child Marriage. The former two don’t have any kind of positive aspects and contribution in societal development and sustenance, but the Jallikattu is a need for the native person. It discovers the strongest breed of bull that would help in production of better breed and also the people who depends on the prize money of the sport. The one is environmental issue and another is social concern.

Social heritage and social adjustments are characteristics of culture. So we need to protect the heritage but we should also walk together towards a global culture where surely some kind of adjustment is required.


Choosing sides in the debate on Jallikattu is a Sisyphean task. Rather it should be dealt with the due dialogue. Dialogue is the basis of Indian culture. So the proper legislation should be made on Jallikattu so that there won’t be any kind of cruelty in practice and Animal Rights ought to be taken into consideration. Man has the capacity to learn from experience and devise ways of adjusting to the physical environment in order to ensure his survival. So they need to rethink their demand by a animal’s point of. But one thing that cannot be ignored is the kind of peaceful and proper protest at Marina Beach will be a paradigm in future. We are rationalist nation. Let’s go of the old, leave the nonsense kind of politics and make a room for the new proper legislation…




Komal has done her schooling from Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya , Birauli, Samastipur, Bihar. Currently, she is pursuing BA.LLB at Chanakya National Law University, Patna. Intrinsically passionate about News paper, Books and Basketball, her interest extends to understand the intricacies of the current legal issues. She yearns to be a renowned lawyer.

One response to “An unbiased discussion on Jallikattu”

  1. Man has the capacity to learn from experience and devise ways of adjusting to the physical environment in order to ensure his survival…


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