Team MP | 14 Jan 2017 3:08 AM
Team MP | 14 Jan 2017 3:08 AM
The Marina beach in Chennai was witness to a huge, and according to participants, a ‘spontaneous’ rally on Sunday morning as nearly 10,000 people gathered to ‘Save Jallikattu’, asking the Central and State government to do whatever in their means to allow the cultural tradition to continue this Pongal.
The rally was organized by a group of non-political and youth organizations. “There were thousands of students from colleges and IT professionals who had gathered. It was a spontaneous movement. No political party or big group organized this, it was a joint effort by people in the city, to call for help for farmers and bull-owners,” said Balakumar Somu of the Biodiversity Conservation Council of India, which was a participant in the rally and has been lobbying for pro-Jallikattu legislation in the past few years.
Other pro-Jallikattu organizations and groups also participated in the event, which gathered momentum predominantly through social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook.
Crowds stretched upto a kilometer long on the beach road in Marina and the event dominated Tamil news channels all morning, with channels beaming live and continuing the programming through the day.
As the festival of Pongal approaches, calls for Jallikattu to be allowed to happen are getting louder in the state. It is during the festival of Pongal that Jallikattu is usually held in several parts of Tamil Nadu.
“Bull Taming” is not just a sport, it is a part of the Indian identity which has been slowly weaned away from us, and today corporates and so-called animal lovers are teaming to put an end to this age-old tradition which has ensured that the best Indian breeds are carried forward and protected for future generations,” says TRB Rajaa, the MLA of Mannargudi, who participated in the rally in an independent capacity.
The Supreme Court of India banned the organizing of Jallikattu under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals act in 2014. Following this, ahead of the 2015 Pongal, the central government issued a notification creating an exception for religious sports like Jallikattu, thereby allowing them to happen. However, organizations like Animal Welfare Board of India and PETA got a stay order on the notification, in effect banning Jallikattu again. This case is now pending at the apex court.
“We cannot demand for a quick verdict from the courts. But we ask that the Centre issue an ordinance allowing Jallikattu again,” says Balakumar Somu, “they should delist the bull from the Performing Animals List. It is not a performing animal to be kept on the list.”
Participants feel that the state government could also pass an ordinance and get it signed by the Governor and the President of India. “But it is the Centre which is in the best position to make this happen,” Somu says.
Farmers associations across Tamil Nadu have expressed happiness with the rally. “We thank the youngsters in the city for organizing the event. Usually it is believed that people in the city don’t care about rural issues. They have showed that’s not the case. At least now the government should do something to allow Jallikattu to happen,” Balakrishna of Tamil Nadu Farmers’ Sangam told Sun News.
Speaking on the same channel, writer Manushiyaputran said that whenever students take up an issue, it gets reinvigorated. “Jallikattu is to protect our culture and native breeds. The Centre has continuously fooled us on this and it is high time they issue an ordinance.”
The unprecedented protests in favour of jallikattu in Tamil Nadu have seen people from across social classes participating in the movement.
PTI Jan, 19 2017 08:54:18 IST
Chennai: Social media appeared to have played a key role in bringing together thousands of pro-Jallikattu protesters to the sprawling Marina Beach in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu, with updates on the ongoing students’ spontaneous stir and messages flooding the platform.
Sites including Facebook were awash with “Let us be united”, “We want Jallikattu,” and “I support Jallikattu” pages, which together account for lakhs of followers, who kept commenting on the evolving situation and pressing their cause.
Facebook pages like “Jallikattu veeravilayattu,” specially designed to spread messages on the bull-taming sport and protest across the state were active with live updates.
Special folk songs were uploaded and real time pictures, videos of protests were posted regularly which helped the information reach more and more people, prompting several of them to join hands.
For instance, a social media user Manikandan uploaded pictures of protest between Madurai and Theni in ‘Jallikattu veeravilayattu’ Facebook page.
A college student here, R Sukumar, said he joined the protests on the Marina Beach responding to a campaign in Facebook by several other students.
Balakumar Somu, in his Facebook post said, “I see protests in so many places, from the metros to small towns & villages. So happy to be a part of the enlightened Tamil youth @Tirupur (Collector’s office).”
Also, posts like “No Jallikattu, no vote” and “save native cattle” dominated social media sites.
Each Jallikattu protest and information related to it got thousands of “likes” on Facebook.
A blogger said, “Jallikattu is not bullfight…PeTA should stop equating the sport with bull fighting.”
In Twitter, hashtags like “justice for jallikattu,” “save our culture jallikattu” continued to trend through the day with countless messages.
Also, messages like “I can arrange dinner, lunch for protestors,” “I can provide drinking water please contact…” were also abound, indicating how the students were organising and managing the protests.
INDIA Updated: Jan 19, 2017 07:20 IST
It all began with a modest protest on Marina beach with 15 participants in 2013 that has now become a mass movement in Tamil Nadu. These warriors roped in youths, cutting across caste, class and region barriers, and encourage them to join the mass agitation.
Himakiran Alagula is a professional from Chennai with rural roots and is an owner of a bull. In 2013, he got interested in Jallikattu and got in touch with Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Federation president P Rajasekharan, who has been fighting for the sport for over 10 years.
Alagula also teamed up with Karthikeya Sivasenapathy, who heads the Senaapathy Kangayam Cattle Research Foundation near Tirupur. Slowly others began to join the fight.
Another professional and businessman from Coimbatore, Balakumar Somu, too, joined the team that prepared the blueprint for the battle.
“We organised seminars, workshops, cattle fairs, meetings, and distributed pamphlets and reading material among college and school students, educating them about the native breeds, agricultural practices. And when they realized the true reason for holding Jallikattu, more support started pouring in,” said Alagula.
Over the years, support for the three organisations — Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Federation, Senaapathy Kangayam Cattle Research Foundation and Biodiversity Conservation Council of India (formed by professionals in India and abroad) — grew and what you see on the Marina beach or in different parts of the state is a result of a sustained effort since 2013, Alagula said.
“It is the failure of the central government to facilitate the native sport and the abusive campaign carried out by PETA against the Tamils that exploded into an outburst of emotional protest,” said Alagula.
“We created awareness through Twitter and Facebook, seminars in colleges and lectures at institutions. The real spark that ignited the anger of the people was the abusive negative campaign by PETA and central government’s indifference,” said another Jallikattu warrior.
WhatsApp, too, came handy for the campaigners.
It was a television programme in January last year that the warriors dominated. It was followed by Hiphop Tamizha, who did a Tamil video song that went viral. It garnered more support from within India and abroad.
Sri Ganesh, the Chennai-coordinator for the Chennai Memes, one of the sites that was extensively used by Jallikattu warriors to spread their message said, “Jallikattu is our cultural heritage. It’s not just one generation at Marina beach, but Tamils from all ages and backgrounds.