Jallikattu: To non-Tamilian Indian friends

Jallikattu: To non-Tamilian Indian friends

You would have been recently watching the word “Jallikattu” and the massive protest started by Tamilnadu youth. It is natural for you to consider it as just “another issue”. Still some of you would be curious about what could be the reason behind the entire Tamil society defending Jallikattu. This article is written as a human by a Tamilian Andhralite  (just like American Indian. People having Telugu as mother tongue whose family had migrated to Tamilnadu many generations back. In short, we celebrate both Tamil and Telugu New Year)

What is Jallikattu?

Just imagine this scenario – The audience around the Jallikattu arena are eager to watch that “one guy” play. Players surround the bull entrance with the hope of winning. But the “master” locks his razor-sharp horns with the dress hem of the player and throws him off. Despite knowing that “he” will become the winner, the players try to hug “his” hull for a certain distance. But “he” terrorises anyone coming within his horn-hitting radius. Though one or two guys manage to hug “his” hull, they are thrown off with one head twist. After all, “he” has been trained for this sport. “He” takes one step forward.  The players take several steps backward. Later, “he” is declared the winner amidst hails.

vaadi-manju-virattu1Just like a hero fight scene in movies right?  The only exception here is that the native-breed bull is the hero. If you want to watch it, follow this link: Jallikattu  (It doesn’t take much MB. So non-Jio users can watch it too!!)

This is Jallikattu where well-trained bulls of native breed (usually Kangayam breed known for its ferocious nature) will let out into the arena one by one and each player will try to hold onto the bull’s hump for a distance of few metres. The bull which wins the sport becomes a hero for the rest of its life and used for breeding. The bulls which do not win will be sent for farming purposes. How this sport is interlinked with effective farming is covered in the following part of this article.


A bull training for Jallikattu by upheaving mud

Why the sudden huge protests?

The complete ban on Jallikattu has been in effect since 2014. And some farmers and environmentalists had been vainly attempting to bring the sport back. You would wonder why Tamilnadu youth didn’t extend their support these two years. One reason is the lack of awareness among youth about Jallikattu’s importance. By mid-2016, many articles, videos and short films on Jallikattu started coming. They explained the need for preservation of native breeds for agriculture and how the ban on Jallikattu would push the already dwindling number of native breeds to extinction.  The ban has accelerated a chain of unfortunate effects on the farming sector. The interlink between Jallikattu, native breeds and farming:

  1. Only the bulls that win in Jallikattu are used for breeding to ensure the passage of best genes for next generation.

  2. Raising native breeds cost a lot of money. Still farmers raise them like family mainly for Jallikattu sport.

  3. The ban on Jallikattu has discouraged the native breed raising which will in turn affect the species population leading to extinction.

  4. Native breeds indispensable for local farming and production of A2 milk (contains many benefits over imported cows’ A1 milk) face the risk of extinction.


Social media played a major role in taking the information to many youth. But more important issues like demonetisation and then Tamilnadu CM’s critical condition demanded the whole of TN’s attention. As everyone was trying to move on from these two issues, New Year was born. Pongal festival (held on Jan 14th) was round the corner and Jallikattu issue gradually took the centre stage. Jallikattu was the only positive thing the Tamils could hope for with the inescapable drought, depleting groundwater problems on the way. Everyone had immense belief on the claims of government that Jallikattu would take place in Jan 2017. But when the ban was to stay this year too, the youths’ subdued anger and dissatisfaction erupted into massive silent protests. The awareness on Jallikattu’s importance also made the youth to support it beyond the cultural reasons.

The entire TN people are trying to clarify the various misconceptions about Jallikattu to fellow Indians. The supporters of Jallikattu want to explain their standpoint. Unfortunately, most national media cover the views of activists speaking in English against Jallikattu exclusively. During protest coverage, protesters explaining about Jallikattu in Tamil language are telecast over those explaining clearly in English. As a result, many Indians outside TN don’t know about all sides of this issue. The TN people want the national media to cover not only the protests but also broadcast the factual truth behind this. This sport unites people of every religion, caste, language and community in Tamilnadu.

They don’t expect you all to protest with them. They just want you to know why they are damn serious in defending Jallikattu.

Note: Personally I support Jallikattu for both cultural and scientific reasons. But I have written this article based on truth.

  • Vijaya Karthikeyan

    Good one Swathy. Well explained. Hope this protest brings in more awareness on our native breeds and A2 milk.

    • Swaathishree Kannan Sridhar

      Thank you so much😊

  • Robert Joseph benjamin

    Well explained and addressed.
    This will open many eyes and understand the truth.

    • Swaathishree Kannan Sridhar

      Thank you so much😊

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