Temple for a Bull!

Cultural Genocide !

 I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in the country, such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay, 1835

The British followed the above words to the letter to enslave India – body, mind and soul! Even after 68 years since they officially left India, this practice has been kept alive by the so-called intellectuals. Educated in western philosophy of capitalism and consumerism, these self-professed intellectuals are furthering the causes of the westerners, MNCs and the rich using the same philosophy.

The Tamils living in India have been at the receiving end for quite some time now. It appears as if there has been a choreographed/planned decimation of the ancient Tamil culture and traditions. Under the garb of modernisation, literacy and cultural upliftment, forces with vested interests have been pushing capitalism, consumerism and westernisation. To captivate Tamilnadu’s huge middle-class with their burgeoning incomes and deep pockets, they are brainwashing them into self-destruction. On issues that they are not able to achieve satisfactory results, they target them with law-suits and other unfair means.

Tamil is the oldest living language and has a rich cultural heritage. One of the most tolerent races in the world, Tamil culture has withstood assault from almost all religions, languages and cultures. They have contributed so much to the world and also assimilated a lot from other languages and cultures. It is yet another harrowing era for Tamils all over the world today. They have been subjected to genocide perpetrated by the Srilankan Government in which hundreds of thousands were massacered, their lands grabbed, temples demolished, names of places renamed in Sinhala. Sadly a cultural genocide in Sri Lanka is continuing till date.

Things are not better off for Tamils living in India either. Their culture and traditions have been the target of ridicule for quite some time now. Being the mother of all languages and traditions of India, the traditions followed in Tamilnadu are quite similar to those followed in the North India. While the traditions of North India are revered, glorified and protected, the very same traditions are being ridiculed and phased out in Tamilnadu.

Holi is the festival of colours celebrated in the North. A similar, ‘Manjal Thanneer’ tradition was followed in Tamilnadu. People would mix turmeric in water and pour the yellow water on other people during the local Mariamman temple festivals. It was meant to be an ice-breaker in a society that kept men and women apart. So young men and women would come out to pour yellow water over their cousins and friends. This used to be a day of fun and frolic for the whole village, just like we have fun on Holi.

However, more and more restrictions were imposed on this simple tradition citing petty reasons. The neo-elite society has now virtually banned this tradition all over Tamilnadu over the last decade. At the same time, the same so-called elites have been glorifying Holi and they have been celebrating holi in all street corners !

An Indian Native Bull
A fine specimen of an Indian Native breed Stud bull. Only stud bulls are used for ‘Jallikattu’.

Every village and town of Tamilnadu has its Goddess Mariamman, the equivalent of Durga. Every temple has an annual celebration which would range from a few days to a month. This period used to be days of fun, excitement, adventure and cultural rejuvenation. There would be local fairs, games, circus would come to town etc. Each and every household would invite all their relatives and it would be a time for a family reunion as well. During this period we had the practice of ‘Vesham Katturathu’ wherein men would disguise themselves as some mythical, real or animal character and go around entertaining people. These performers were usually from the lower income bracket of the society and they would sing and dance. They would be rewarded for their performance and this was a considerable source of income for them. You can find people performing as all kinds of characters – Gypsys dance was very popular and so was ‘Puli Vesham’ (Tiger dance), ‘Mayil Aatam’ (Peacock dance) etc. Over centuries, these perfomances had developed into an art form that was unique to Tamilnadu. ‘Puli Vesham’, especially, had developed into an art that combined acrobatic skills and dancing skills performed with the antics of a Tiger that would leave the audience awestruck! There were days when we were kids the whole locality would converge to see an adhoc street performance of ‘Puli Vesham’. Then there were Ganeshas, Murugans, Shivas, Bears, etc etc. Just like with ‘Manjal Thanneer’, permits were made mandatory for this performance, more and more restrictions were put in place, till one fine day people just gave up !

Jallikattu Action
This simple, harmless rural sport has recently come under fire by urbanites who seldom leave the comfort of their couch, to go see the real game !

The tirade against Tamils never seems to end! Now the so-called ‘elite’ have leashed a new wave of attacks targetting rural sports. Steeped in thousands of years of cultural evolution, Tamils have several rural sports including contact sports, sports using domesticated animals and birds, human-animal contact sports etc. The most famous among these rural sports is ‘Jallikattu’, a human-animal contact sport wherein unarmed sportsman tries to embrace a bull for a maximum period of 10 seconds. This has been and still continues to be a rural sport. Ignorant of what this sport actually is, the neo-elite, fancying themselves as animal rights activists are now up in arms against this harmless sport.

Bull being embraced in a Jallikattu event
Bulls are embraced in this sport for a period of about 10 seconds or till the bull crosses the 50 feet marker !

Jallikattu’, which has over 4000 years of recorded history, is conducted in the Indian states of Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Andhra pradesh, during local temple festivals, and also during Pongal. There are different versions and local variations of this simple sport, varying from region to region. This is aninnocuous human-animal contact sport that is conducted as a part of the local temple festivities. It was never a spectator sport and was not intended to be conducted as an individual sport for the purpose of entertainment. The bull is considered scared by Hindus and harming the bull in any manner is unacceptable to them. The bull is usually let loose on the temple grounds. The ‘prize’ is usually a towel tied between its horns. Unarmed sportsmen try to embrace the bull and untie the towel. The sportsman who gets hold of the towel will be declared victor. If not, the bull is considered the winner. The bulls are revered and honored by the villagers. One traveling around Tamilnadu can see several statues built for Temple bulls and bulls belonging to other families dotting the rural landscape. These temple bulls are worshiped as Gods and pujas are conducted for them round the year.

Temple bui;lt for a Bull
Temples, such as these, built to honour bulls dot the Tamilnadu rural landscape.

Ignorance is bliss”

Self-proclaimed ‘elitists’, under the garb of animal rights activists are now holding this tradition to ransom. Ignorant of the sport, its value, its cultural, economical contributions to the rural society, these urbanites who have never even bothered to visit a village to see a ‘Jallikattu’ event live are the ones in the forefront of vilifying this rich cultural tradition of Tamilnadu. They are also ignorant of the fact that Jallikattu bulls are the village stud bulls and these native breed cows offer much healthier A2 milk. The Tamil society has been fighting these imperialist groups for over a decade now. The damage is already visible. A native cattle breed of South India, Alambadi, a trotting variety known for endurance is now officially extinct! Two more native cattle breeds are facing extinction. A ban on ‘Jallikattu’ will ensure speedy extinction of several native cattle breeds of South India. The ban on Jallikattu has meant that these highly valuable stud bulls have nowhere to go other than slaughter houses!

Anything proferred by the West ‘should be the best solution’ and those following their age-old Indian customs, tradition and culture should be ‘liberated’, profess these so-called animal rights activists.

Having already lost so many of its rich cultural traditions, the Tamils are being pushed to the wall again. Each time this happened in the past, the tolerant Tamils just gave up! This time there is too much at stake to just give up and walk away. Will the Tamils rise up to face the challenge at last?

Article by Balakumar Somu. The author can be reached at balasomu@jallikattu.in

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