Category Archives: Jallikattu

Jallikattu: Suffocation by Law

by Balakumar Somu on 12 Jan 2015

Animal Rights Activists are celebrating the Supreme Court of India’s recent ban on Jallikattu as if it is their greatest achievement. But the reality is Jallikattu was already dying a natural death and the ban was just the last nail in the coffin.

People of Tamil Nadu had already lost all hope and were reconciled to the fact that Jallikattu is set to die. The tradition had lost all its religious fervour, colour, pomp, ceremony and had been turned into a nightmare of sorts for farmers, bull owners, sportsmen, spectators and the bulls these activists want to ‘protect’. The number of events had dropped from over 3000 before 2006 to just about 24 in 2014. The number of pure-breed native stud bulls had dropped to less than 1000. The expenses to organise an event had shot up from almost nothing to anywhere between Rs 15 to 40 lakhs and was beyond the reach of most villages. The worst of all was the harassment by the authorities – police and bureaucrats.

This decimation was orchestrated by cunning manipulation by animal rights activists and executed by the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act (TNRJA) 2009. The very law enacted by the State government to protect its culture turned out to be its bane. Most of the regulations stipulated in the law were based on guidelines set by the Supreme Court at the instance of the animal rights activists. This law was suffocating Jallikattu to a slow death till the Supreme Court put it under the guillotine.

Section 3 of TNRJA 2009 endows almost all the powers relating to permission for organising an event to the District Collector.

What was essentially a village temple festival was turned into a bureaucratic circus placing the organisers and villagers at the mercy of the District Collector. Since the presence of at least a deputy collector and ALL the other authorities stipulated in the law is mandatory, most authorities viewed the event as an additional burden on their duties and tried to avoid giving permission to conduct the event, citing one reason or the other. Most villages organise the event only on one auspicious day during the year and hence if the authorities do not give permission for the event on that specific date, the villages cannot organise the event for that year. Moreover if 100 villages wish to organise the event, how can the authorities spare so many days to oversee the event? Hence the easiest way out for them was to deny permission.

Section 3-(2)-(1) restricts the events to be held only from January to May of each year.

Jallikattu was usually conducted only during auspicious temple festivals. It is not an entertainment activity and cannot be scheduled like a sport calendar. Most villages in Theni, Trichy, Pudukkottai and other adjoining districts conduct their temple festivals during the Tamil month Margazhi which falls in December. Many a village temple festival falls after May, automatically being rejected for conduct of the event. As a result, most villages stopped organising Jallikattu.

 

Section 3-(2) further states that:

(iii) the event should have been conducted during the past five years continuously;

(iv) the event shall be held at a place notified by the Collector in the District Gazette.

This means that only those villages mentioned in the district Gazette, by the Collector, can organise an event and that too if a Jallikattu event was held continuously during the past five years! So if a village is denied permission for a period of five years, that village loses its right to conduct the event, forever!

Restrictions on Time, number of events and related issues

Section 3-(3) states thus:

A permission granted under sub-section (1) shall be—

(a) valid for such area, for such period and for such purposes, as may be specified therein;

(b) subject to such conditions and restrictions as may be specified therein.

This section clearly puts the event under the mercy of the District Collector. The time permitted for the event depends on the District Collector! At most places it was from 8 am to 2 pm. However it is at the discretion of the authorities to stop the event at any time they please! There have been instances where a Collector started the event at 10 am and ended it at 12 pm, despite pleading by the organisers to let the remaining bulls participate!

Starting the event as early as 8 am led to the following new issues for sportsmen and bulls:

Problems introduced for sportsmen

  1. The sportsmen had to queue up as early as 6.30 am as they had to be screened for physical fitness, blood pressure, use of liquor etc.
  2. Once screened, the sportsmen were provided uniforms and not allowed to venture out. Thus they had no access to food till the end of the event at 2 pm. Only water was provided at most venues. Their relatives were banned by the authorities from providing them food or energy drink during the event for fear of malpractice.
  3. If the sportsman had to attend nature’s call, he had to remove his uniform t-shirt and give it to a policeman and was at the mercy of the policeman on return.
  4. Fearing harassment by the police, most sportsmen did not return once they left the arena.

Problems introduced for bulls

Since the number of events dwindled from over 3000 before 2006 to about 24 in 2014, an unusually large number of bulls were brought to these events for participation. This gave rise to a number of new issues for the organisers.

 

  1. The bulls were forced to stand in a long queue for health screening, putting unnecessary stress on the animals. Before this law came into effect, the bull would be relaxing at home and would be brought to the venue only when it was time to release it. This meant the bull was not stressed.
  2. Before 2006, numerous events were held and so mainly bulls from the village and nearby villages only participated. So most bulls were brought on foot for the event. The event would last for a few minutes in smaller villages and a few hours in larger ones. A few famous bulls, called ‘star’ bulls might be invited from other villages as an honour.
  3. Drastic reduction in the number of events meant that bulls had minimum opportunity to participate in the event. Hence bull owners had to transport the bulls to far away villages in the hope of getting admitted. A team of at least 7 to 10 persons had to accompany the bull. This put a strain on the bull owner as he had to shell out considerable money to bring the bull to the event. With no great prizes given out, and the pride being lost due to all the haggling, uncertainty of the event as well as admission, bull owners lost interest and just gave up rearing bulls.

 

Problems introduced for the Organisers

 

  1. Since there was a spurt in the number of bulls and restricted time, bulls were allowed on a first-come-first-serve basis called ‘token system’.
  2. A token was issued by the organisers to the bulls coming first which meant that one had to beat the queue. Hence bull owners had to queue up to get tokens. This led to issues of favoritism and resultant bad-blood between the organisers and bull owners.
  3. Although the TNJRA 2009 permits the District collector to provide sufficient time for the event, the authorities restricted the time for the event. This meant that all the bulls brought to the event could not participate, leading to haggling for admission ‘tokens’.
  4. In order to allow maximum number of bulls to participate, each bull was allotted an average of 30 seconds to 1 minute! This resulted in most bulls just entering the arena and running out without even being touched, spoiling the nature and spirit of the sport and transforming Jallikattu into not-so-interesting affair.
  5. Queuing up led to an outcry from the animal rights activists that there was a lot of stress on the animal and that the animal had to stand in dung and urine! Hence the queues were reduced to a maximum of 50 animals while the rest would be tied in stables around the village.

 

Section 4 of TNJRA 2009 caused spiralling costs

 Section 4-(ii) states that permission has to be sought 30 days prior to the event

 

Generally all arrangements stated in Section 4 have to be made before seeking permission. Hence the venue was prepared and sometimes it took months to get permission. So the mandatory and expensive 8-feet high double barricades with spectator galleries, river sand flooring with coir-pith spread, comfort-stations et al had to be in place for that period of time. This meant that the cost of organising the event spiraled and in most cases the barricades and other facilities could not be reused at another village since the first one was still waiting for permission.

 

Additionally, the organisers had to remit a deposit of minimum Rs 2 lakh for a small village to Rs. 5 lakh for a bigger event, to be disbursed to the injured as compensation. The cost of organising a Jallikattu event stood at anywhere between Rs 15 to 40 lakh. How many villages in India can afford such a cost and that too for a non-revenue generating religious tradition? People simply gave up!

 

Problems due to tampering with the arena

 

  1. The bulls are used to walking on firm ground! But authorities demanded that the arena be spread with sand and a layer of coir pith citing sportsmen safety. This was meant to provide cushioning effect for the sportsmen during a fall. But sometimes bulls would slip and fall due to the sand. This also added to the cost.
  2. Jallikattu was never meant to be a spectator sport. The TNRJA 2009 stipulates that double barricades and spectator galleries be provided. This rule led to the ill-designed arena seen today. The arena is supposed to be an ‘improvement’ over the traditional one. However the arena is designed with only one vadivasalrelease gate. With double barricades on both sides. The finish line that bulls have to cross is just 15 metres away, leaving a very small window of opportunity for sportsmen to embrace the bull. A typical bull crosses this distance in an average of 30 seconds! This meant that all the action took place only in the first 15 metres. The authorities, accompanied by their families, and the organisers occupied the best seats, followed by the press gallery and VIP gallery – for families and friends of the who’s who of the locality, leaving little room for the other spectators. This resulted in spectators losing interest in the sport, as most of them could not see the action taking place – those beyond 50 feet ended up seeing bulls being herded away only! Even if they were lucky to get a seat with a view, the sport turned boring as most bulls just ran away without being embraced.
  3. The sportsmen too, deprived of food and energy supplements, became tired after the first one or two hours and did not show much prowess later on.
  4. In most events, after the first two hours, most spectators were only bull owners and their families eagerly waiting to see their bull emerge out of the vadivasal and the mini truck drivers eagerly waiting to go home!

 

Blow to the ‘Kovil Kaalai’ system

 

The greatest damage that the TNJRA 2009 did was to the thousands of years old ‘Kovil Kaalai’ tradition of Tamil culture.

 

Most villagers due to their economic status were not able to afford a stud bull. Hence the whole village adopted a bull and designated it as the village temple ‘Kovil Kaalai’ (Temple bull). The whole purpose of this free ranging bull is to provide stud services to the village cows. The ‘kovil kaalai’ is never roped and is free to roam around the village. The villagers permitted the bull to graze from any field and provided water. In fact, they believe that they will get a bumper crop if the ‘Kovil Kaalai’ grazed from their field!

 

It was deemed a collective responsibility of the village to take care of the bull, and the bull was considered the holy representative of the temple deity. Every three years, the village would exchange the designated ‘kovil kaalai’ with a nearby village. Once old, the bull will be adopted by a village and looked after till its last. The last rites for a village bull are done as if for a fellow human being. After one year, the body will be exhumed and its horns removed. A statue honouring the ‘Kovil Kaalai’ will be built in its designated temple and the bull’s real horns placed as the horns of its statue.

 

The ‘Kovil Kaalai’ enjoyed the top most honour of entering the Jallikattu arena first. A special puja was done to the bull and sent into the arena. No spectator is allowed to ‘embrace’ the ‘Kovil Kaalai’ and they usually pay obeisance to the holy bull.

 

Blow to the Religious Festivities

 

Another great victim of this law was the religious festivities of the village. Jallikattu was never and is still not a competitive sport. Jallikattu was meant to honour the villagers who were willing to rear a stud bull which was used for mating purposes, usually free, of the village cattle. So bull owners were honoured with a traditional‘tambalam’ – consisting of a dhoti, towel, betel leaves, a bunch of bananas and sometimes token cash, say Rs.101. To accord top honours to the village bull keepers, Jallikattu was organised as the first event of the village temple festival.

 

The bulls were adorned with garlands, towels and jewels, if the owner could afford, and paraded with full honours to the temple. The festivities started with the performance of a special puja for the bulls and then the bulls were released into the arena. Since this is not a competitive sport, there were no winners or runners-up. All bulls were considered winners and awarded the same prize. Participating in a Jallikattu is considered the greatest honour accorded to a bull owner.

 

Registration of Bull as a performing animal and restriction on movement of bulls

 

All the bulls had to be registered with the Animal Welfare Board of India by paying a fee of Rs. 500 at least one month before the event and a veterinarian has to certify that the bull is free from communicable diseases.

 

The harassment of the mostly illiterate bull owners starts at the hands of the policemen who demand to ‘check’ the AWBI registration, veterinarian certificate and coin their own rules about transportation. The vehicle is allowed to pass through only after they are properly ‘satisfied’.

 

The day the Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Regulation Act 2009 was passed, Jallikattu was doomed. The authorities were determined to ensure that lesser number of events were conducted each following year and that nobody – the bulls, bull owners, sportsmen, organisers or the spectators – relished Jallikattu. Bull owners and sportsmen lost all the associated honour, the game turned into a boring event, spectators lost interest and religious leaders were ignored as the religious aspect was totally lost in the bureaucratic quagmire.

 

The biggest losers of all are the bulls, which the Animal Rights Activists purportedly wanted to save – they turned from royalty to pariah status. More and more of these majestic, loving animals had been sold off, ending up in slaughter houses of Kerala. After the animal rights activists entered the scene in 2006, the population of native cattle breeds of Tamil Nadu reduced steeply. Several breeds are facing extinction and the famous ‘Alambadi’ breed is considered extinct now.

 

With such a draconian law, Jallikattu was being suffocated to a slow death already. There was no need for a ban after all.

This news article has been reproduced from “Vijayvaani.com” (Online edition) – dated  12 January 2015 .
The original article can be accessed at : http://www.vijayvaani.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?aid=3457

Jallikattu ban could lead to mass slaughter of bulls

by Senthil on 11 Jan 2015

With just days to go for the Pongal celebrations, there has been heavy uncertainty prevailing in Tamil Nadu on the fate of Jallikattu, Manjuvirattu and other temple festivals of the State.  The people of Tamil Nadu, particularly the southern region, have been anxiously waiting for the Central Government to take steps to overcome the oppressive and unjust ban order issued by the Supreme Court of India. They had high hopes that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a nationalist party would understand the sensitivities of our age-old culture, and facilitate Jallikattu for the oncoming Pongal.

 

The situation is very critical because both PETA and the Jallikattu supporters believe that this year is the lifeline for their respective camp. If Jallikattu happens, it will be a major victory for Jallikattu supporters and rural people of Tamil Nadu, and would ensure revival of Jallikattu in subsequent years; so far it has been suppressed heavily. If it does not happen, it will be a major victory for PETA and associated animal rights groups who expect that the protest by rural people will lose momentum and gradually wither away.

 

BJP misguided to political suicide

 

The BJP seems to be doing political calculation on the Jallikattu issue. They feel that if Jallikattu does not happen, the people’s anger will turn towards ADMK and BJP can cash in on this later. This is utter stupidity. The people have a soft corner for Ms Jayalalithaa as she was arrested and dethroned, and they are well aware that she is not in a position to do anything with regard to Jallikattu. So anger will be directed towards the BJP which is currently in power at the Center.  The Dravidian parties will amplify this anger by pointing to the central government.

 

It will be political suicide for BJP in the south Tamil Nadu if Jallikattu does not happen. However, if BJP takes step to remove the ban and promotes Jallikattu in big way, it can establish a foothold in the southern Tamil Nadu, which is currently controlled by the Dravidian parties. It is pertinent that H. Raja of Tamil Nadu had issued statements that BJP will bring back Jallikattu. So people have high expectations of the BJP, and have been making arrangements to conduct Jallikattu at many places.

Keeping aside these political games, few seem aware of the severe consequences of this unjust ban on Jallikattu. If the Jallikattu is not conducted during the coming Pongal festival, it will trigger the mass sale of Jallikattu bulls by farmers as they start believing that this ban is forever. It need not be said that all bulls will end up in slaughter houses, but a large number of bulls were sold when the Supreme Court ban order came in May 2014. According to rough estimates, around 20 per cent of the bulls were sold after this ban; this is more than 1000 bulls across Tamil Nadu.

Jallikattu bulls are maintained at high cost by farmers, exclusively for the Jallikattu. There are no returns for the amount (and effort) spent in maintaining Jallikattu bulls. They are maintained because traditional society considers it a matter of pride to send bulls to the race. Jallikattu is conducted only once in a year in each place, and each farmer gets only few minutes for the bulls to participate in this event. Banning Jallikattu will destroy the incentive that traditional society has created for the up-keep of the bulls.

The beef mafia is salivating at this opportunity, as there is a premium price for the beef of Indian breeds (bos indicus) in the international market. Since Jallikattu bulls are maintained well with nutritious food, the quantity and quality of its flesh is superior to hybrid cows.

Jallikattu bulls are the last of the desi cattle breeds (bos indicus or zebu) in Tamil Nadu. In the past, there would be at least two to three commercial breeding bulls maintained by farmers in each village for reproduction. Artificial Insemination at cheaper rates by the government had destroyed the economic viability of these breeding bulls and led to drastic reduction in the population of uncastrated bulls across Tamil Nadu.

Earlier, whenever Jallikattu was sold, it would be bought for breeding purposes due to its superior quality. But the demand for breeding bulls fell due to artificial insemination and there is no other market for these male species which can match the rates offered by beef traders. Hence, any mass sale of these bulls, due to Jallikattu ban, by default will benefit the beef industry and lead to extinction of our desi cattle breeds, and the genetic diversity of our native cattle species will be lost forever. We would be forced to depend solely on the few hundred stud bulls maintained by government, which will lead to common fatherhood of all cattle across Tamil Nadu, degrading the genetic diversity.

Any loss of out native species is irreversible, and will severely affect future efforts to revive these desi cattle breeds. Already, many desi cattle breeds like ongole, hallikar, vechur are at the verge of extinction.

The government should recognise the utility of Jallikattu event as a self-sustaining model evolved by society for preservation and improvement of our desi cattle varieties and take steps to facilitate the exercise of Jallikattu, by removing the ban imposed on it.

Pongal Celebration will lose its charm without Jallikattu

Jallikattu, Manjuvirattu and related events are the lifeline of Pongal, without which it will lose its charm and liveliness. The soul of any society lies in its festivals and killing Jallikattu will kill traditional Tamil society itself. Can we imagine Europe without the FICA world cup or Halloween festival? Can we imagine Olympic Games without the grand celebrations with fireworks and dances?

Jallikattu is a Hindu Festival

Jallikattu is a Hindu religious festival, because all Jallikattu events are conducted as part of the temple event. In each event, all the temple bulls (called Koil Kalai) of surrounding temples are released in the arena after poojas are performed on them. These are bulls dedicated to the deities of respective temple (called divine bulls) and hence qualify for Nandi Pooja. The players in the arena worship these divine bulls and do not attempt to touch them. Even for private bulls, the owner takes it to the temple for pooja, before releasing it into the arena. So in every aspect, Jallikattu qualifies as a Hindu religious festival.

There is Puranic evidence in Bhagvata Puranam and Vishnu Puranam. Sathya Naganajiti was the daughter of Kosala king Nagnajit, who declared he would marry his daughter only to the brave prince who tamed his seven ferocious bulls. Sri Krishna accepted the challenge, tamed the seven bulls, and married Naganajiti; she is the sixth of the eight principal queen consorts of Sri Krishna. The government should recognise these facts and take steps to declare Jallikattu and other events conducted in temple premises as Hindu religious festival.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, enacted by the Nehruvian regime, gives rights to one community to kill cows and bulls as part of their religious rights. Yet now Hindus are being denied the right to use their own bulls for Jallikattu and other religious festivals. This is discriminatory and should be amended.

Cowardice and Fraud by PETA and animal rights mafia

The animal rights mafia had been persecuting Jallikattu for a decade. Unable to win legally, they resorted to lobbying and got lobbied Jairam Ramesh to amend the PCA act to include bulls in the list of Performing Animals in 2011. On this basis, the Supreme Court gave their harsh judgement. This is fraudulent because the definition of performing animals does not fit Jallikattu bulls. Jallikattu is not conducted for entertainment or commercial purpose. People spend their own money to organise these events as part of their temple festival. The definition of performing animals applies only to animals used in circus for entertainment purpose.

When laws can be modified to the whims and fancies of elite lobbies, what kind of justice is served?

After the Supreme Court ban order on Jallikattu in May 2014, this author asked one animal rights activist who was instrumental in the ban as to what steps she had taken to protect the bulls that would be sold because of the ban.  She replied that it is not her responsibility to save those bulls, and the onus lay on the rural people! This is outright hypocrisy which needs to be exposed.

Bogus allegations

Animal rights activists are blindly parroting the argument of “bulls tortured in Jallikattu”, even after the accusations have been proved false. The fact that Jallikattu bulls are taken care of extravagantly all year round is deliberately ignored. When asked how come “mere five minutes of these bulls running through the arena” constitutes cruelty, they resort to stupid arguments like, “Even if it is for few minutes, it is cruelty”. When further cornered, “Are you going to send these bulls to slaughter just to avoid these few minutes of supposed cruelty?”, they become hysterical and claim, “the bulls will rest in peace forever, rather than undergoing torture in Jallikattu”.

The animal rights mafia could not answer many questions raised by Jallikattu supporters. When Jallikattu supporters demanded the registration number of the bulls that were allegedly tortured, they had no reply. Another fraud by the animal rights mafia is that they used old photographs (prior to 2008 events) while making their charges, and were caught red-handed when it was pointed out that after 2008 regulations all players were given uniforms, whereas the photos submitted by them had players without uniform! There are many such fraudulent practices by these mafias.

Jallikattu Bulls are NOT tortured

 A normal bull has the capacity of pulling 2 to 4 tons of weight, depending on the breed and stature. After regulation of Jallikattu since 2008, just one person hangs on the hump of these bulls for few seconds. Since the weight of a person does not exceed 80 kg, hanging on to the hump for a few seconds cannot be construed as cruelty. All other accusations were removed by the regulation of the event by high court guidelines and the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act. The fact that Jallikattu organisers accepted and welcomed these regulations (even though strict), prove that they intend no harm to the bulls.

Centre’s role

The people of Tamil Nadu had been under the sway of Dravidian parties for the past 60 years.  Because of them, Jallikattu has been projected as distinct Tamil culture, and not as a Hindu religious festival, comparable with similar animal sports in other parts of the country. With the rise of the BJP at the center and both Dravidian parties weakened in the State, the Tamil people have realised that Jallikattu is a Hindu festival and are ready to accept this in public.

The central government can help to overcome the ban on Jallikattu by removing bulls from the list of performing animals, as bulls in Jallikattu are used only as part of temple festivals and not for commercial or entertainment purpose.

It can also declare Jallikattu, Manjuvirattu and all other events conducted in temples as a religious festival.

Moreover, PETA is a foreign funded organisation which has no locus standi on local festivals. Their supporters in India are urban elites who associate with PETA for varied reasons; neither has any experience in maintaining bull or cows.

But Jallikattu supporters are rooted in our tradition and fighting for their religious and cultural rights inherited from ancestors. They have unquestionable legitimate interests in the fight for preserving and promoting Jallikattu.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi should consider these facts and take appropriate steps to remove the ban on Jallikattu and save the native breeds and Tamil culture from becoming extinct.

This news article has been reproduced from “Vijayvaani.com” (Online edition) – dated  11 January 2015 .
The original article can be accessed at : http://www.vijayvaani.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?aid=3456

Cocks and bulls an issue for Sankranti and Pongal

TruthDive

Posted by Ayyappa Prasad on January 10, 2015 in Exclusive, Headlines, India, National, News, Politics 

Chennai/ Vijayawada/Jan 10 (TruthDive): Sankranti in Andhra and Pongal in Tamil Nadu this year, is going to be a headache for AIADMK and TDP. The problem comes not from the opposition parties or trade unions asking for a bonus.

Roosters, otherwise known as cocks along with bulls are giving nightmares to Naidu and Paneerselvam. In Andhra, especially in the Godavari district, Sankranti cannot be celebrated without a cockfight. In Tamil Nadu, Northern parts cannot think of Pongal without Jallikattu. One thing that is common among both these sports is that it is seen as a tradition that is followed since generations. These events bring the entire villages in the region together. Unlike Andhra where crores of rupees run on the Sankranti cockfight ritual, Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu is more of a collective effort by villagers to show their valour or one-upmanship.

Last year, Tamil Nadu conducted the Jallikattu within the parameters set by High Court. This year Supreme Court had banned Jallikaatu in total. Bulls have been reared with a single goal to see that no one is able to bring its wild run to an end. Youths have been getting ready to humble these bulls and more so if it happens to be the one from the next village.

Andhra has in built mechanism to get around the ban on cockfights. Every year, the cockfights take place and police take the animals into custody. As Sankranti comes on a week-end, courts are closed. The cocks are released as they create a storm in the police station.

Villagers bet on the cockfights and big landlords put lakhs on the cocks. The betting business is huge that it could attract Gurunath Meiyappan to shift from IPL to cockfights, say sources. Naidu was embarrassed as his own MPs,MLAs and MLCs staged a dharna in Godavari district against police cracking on cockfights. Police caught a group that had collected Rs 5 lakh as bet money from villagers. Sankranti and cockfights are symbolic of the political arena of Andhra.

Tamil groups say that Jallikattu is a sign of a Tamilian’s valour. As demand grows for conducting Jallikattu and many villages threatening to break the ban, TN CM OPS shifted the onus to Modi sarkar. He said that he has asked the Union environment ministry to remove bull from the list of animals banned for use as performing animals and added that the animal was included in the list when DMK was very much an ally of UPA in 2011.

Cockfights in Andhra during Sankranti and taming of bulls in Tamil Nadu for Pongal has now reached the apex court. In the cockfight case, SC has asked for animal rights body to implead. At this rate, a verdict before Sankranti looks distant. Tamil Nadu review petition before the SC is pending since last May.

This news article has been reproduced from “truthdive.com” (Online edition) – dated  10 January 2015 .
The original article can be accessed at :

http://truthdive.com/2015/01/10/cocks-and-bulls-an-issue-for-sankranti-and-pongal.html

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

Ban on Jallikattu : PETA’s affront on Hinduism

righteous person follows ahimsa or non-violence to any living being by thought, word or deed and possesses tolerance towards others with an unperturbed mind even if they are antagonistic.” – Bhagavad Gita

Temple for bull
A temple built in honour of a temple bull in Pulankurichi, Sivagangai district, India.

 

Of late, It has become a fad to ridicule Hinduism. The oldest and most tolerant religion which never professes propagation is at the receiving end from every Tom, Dick and Harry who wants to make a fashion statement.

It has reached such a state today that anything associated with Hinduism is branded as ‘backward’, ‘superstitious’, ‘illiterate’ or even ‘barbaric’. Similar traditions and customs followed by the religious minorities are encouraged under the garb of ‘minority rights’ (read secularism). The very same self-professed, know-all intellectuals are scared to open their mouth about the customs and traditions of the minorities for fear of incurring their wrath.

Ingrained with the virtue of tolerance, Hindus just tolerate any kind of abuse thrown at them. With no single God, no single scripture and no single path to follow, Hinduism gives its followers maximum freedom to follow their chosen path. This benign aspect, considered a boon to its followers, is now their bane. They have been conditioned to tolerate anything thrown at them. If at all they make any noise, the intellectuals paint the issue as ‘caste’ based. ‘Caste’ being taboo, Hindus become reluctant to associate themselves with the issue.

One of the major assaults on Hinduism in recent times, is PETA’s affront on Hindus’ relationship with the Cow. Unlike the Western world which views its cows as walking hamburgers, the cow is considered sacred to Hindus. Cow is worshipped as ‘Kamadhenu’, the God that grants all wishes. ‘Nandi’, a bull, is Lord Shiva’s companion and stands in penance overlooking Lord Shiva in all his temples. Most Hindus are vegetarian and those who are not do not eat beef. Being predominantly farmers, their major relationship with the animal world has been with cattle. Cows have been reared for milk and bulls/ oxen, their work companions.

Woman and Bull
An Indian woman with her bull. A cow/bull is considered as a member of the family. The whole family showers its love and affection on it as if it were their own child.

Hindus celebrate several festivals throughout the year to honour their cattle. The most prominent among them being ‘Makar Sankranti’ celebrated all over India. It is celebrated as ‘Pongal’, the harvest festival, in Tamilnadu, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Maldives and by Tamils all over the world.

Honouring the Cow, including bulls, oxen and calves, is a part of all Hindu religious festivals. They are decked with colourful garlands, horns painted and brought to temples for puja. A puja is also done to the cow. During a house-warming ceremony, a Cow and a calf are the first ones that enter into the house, as Hindus believe that Cow is the mother of all Gods. Temples in South India have statues of their temple bulls. There are even temples built for bulls. Hindus also honour the cow by having some innocuous activities associated with the temple festivals like ‘Jallikattu’, ‘Eruthottam’, bullock cart racing, bull racing, cattle shows etc.

One such sport, ‘Jallikattu’, is conducted in the Indian states Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Andhra pradesh, during local temple festivals, and also during Pongal. This is a harmless humal-animal contact sport that is conducted as a part of the temple festivities and not an individual sport conducted for entertainment. It has over 4000 years of recorded history. The bull is usually let loose on the temple grounds. The ‘prize’, if it can be called that, is usually a towel tied between its horns. Unarmed sportsmen who get hold of the towel will be declared victor. If the bulls returns home – the bull usually finds its way back home by itself – with the towel intact, the bull is considered the winner. Almost every temple in the 13 districts, constituting the ‘Jallikattu belt’, of Tamilnadu have permanent structures called ‘Vadi’ or the ‘starting gates’ for the bulls, standing evidence to the fact that this was indeed a part and parcel of Hindu tradition.

This historic sport is now the target of a sinister campaign by PETA which seems to have some hidden agenda in getting the sport banned. PETA has succeeded in getting this traditional sport banned by taking the legal route. PETA has been throwing all kinds of wild allegations against the innocuous temple tradition. PETA has been vilifying the harmless sport as ‘barbaric’ and has been further misleading the public, majority of whom have never visited or seen a Jallikattu, by equating this to spanish bull fights. Unlike bull fights taking place in other parts of the world, where the bull is tortured and killed, in Jallikattu the bull is not harmed at all. The tamil name ‘Aeru Thazhuvudal’ translates to ‘Embracing the Bull’! That is the true spirit of the game. The sportsman tries to embrace the bull by its hump – trying to hold the bull by its horns, neck, leg or tail will lead to disqualification – for a maximum of about 5 to 10 seconds.

Statue of Temple Bull
A statue built in a temple at Trichy for a temple bull. People worship a temple bull when alive and even after it passes away.

When travelling across the rural countryside of Tamilnadu, one would come across numerous statues of temple bulls built inside the temple premises. These statues are usually built about a year after the death of the temple bull. They usually sport the real horns of the bull, exhumed in an elaborate ceremony conducted after about a year. The Hindus worship these bulls as God – when alive and even after they die. Death of a temple bull is considered as a loss of a family member of the whole village. All the villagers gather and perform the last rites for the temple bull as they would do when their bretheren passes away. Religious and non-religious festivals like marriages are not celebrated for the next 16 days as the village goes into mourning.

Temple Vadi
A temple ‘Vadi’ or starting gate lying in a state of disuse and decay due to PETA’s assault of this Hindu temple tradition.

To achieve its goal of getting this Hindu religious activity banned, PETA has resorted to character assasination of not just the sport, but also Hindus and Tamils. One of the major allegation by PETA is that this tradition is not associated with Hinduism at all! PETA says it is not associated with religious activities. If this was true, then why do all these temples have permanent ‘Vadis’ (bull starting gates)? If it is not a Hindu religious practice, then why do all temple festivals include ‘Jallikattu’ as a part of the festivities? Why do all the temple festivals include honouring the bull? Why are there ‘Temple Bulls’ in the first place? Why are the ‘Temple Bulls’ given the honour of starting the ‘Jallikattu’?

PETA which is an American organisation, according to their own admission, kills over 4 million innocent puppies and kitten every year. What right does such a mass murderer like PETA have to preach Hindus on what traditions they should follow and what they should not?

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