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What is Jallikattu Festival?

Jan 16, 2023

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Today we will discuss Jallikattu Festival in our today's edition of Current Affairs. Read further to upgrade your UPSC CSE knowledge and also understand the topic’s relevance to the UPSC syllabus.

For Prelims: Current events of national and international importance.

About Jallikattu, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, Article 29(1) of the Constitution

For Mains: GS Paper I; Indian Society, GS Paper II; Government Policies and Interventions, GS Paper III; Conservation

Context

The three-day Jallikattu events which are scheduled recently in Madurai are in a legal tussle as a batch of petitions seeking to strike down a Tamil Nadu law awaits the Supreme Court's verdict.

Probable Question

Why did the Supreme Court quash the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009 in 2014? What has been the stand of the government on jallikattu? (150 Words, 10 marks)

About Jallikattu

  • Jallikattu is a traditional event that is common in Tamil Nadu in which people, mostly male youth, try to grab a bull by its horns and 'tame it' as it resists.
  • It is basically a violent bull-taming sport that has traditionally been part of the festival of Pongal since more than 2000 years. 
  • The festival is a celebration of nature, and thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest, of which cattle worship is part.
  • This festival is celebrated every year in January during the time of harvesting and Pongal celebration in the south and central districts of Tamil Nadu.
  • The elite Jallikattu breeds test the strength and guile of farm hands in especially-constructed arenas. 
  • In the sport, there is only one winner, man or bull. 

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Wildlife Protection

Concerns with the Jallikattu Event

  • There are a lot of concerns with the event ranging from issues of cruelty to animals, and the bloody and dangerous nature of the sport that causes death and injuries to both the bulls and human participants.
  • There are instances when Bulls, used in the event are beaten, poked, prodded, harassed and jumped on by numerous people. 
  • They have their tails bitten and twisted and their eyes and noses filled with irritating chemicals.
  • Every year several people also get seriously injured.
  • There have been constant wrestles between the state governments and the centre that whether Tamil Nadu can conserve it as a cultural right under Article 29(1) of the Constitution.
  • Article 29 states that “Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same”.

Legal tussle

  • In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, “over-shadows or overrides the so-called tradition and culture”. 
  • The Animal Welfare Board of India, a statutory body under the Centre, and animal rights groups like PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), served as evidence that the Jallikattu animals were physically and mentally tortured.
  • In 2014, the Supreme Court puts a ban on jallikattu through a judgment in the Animal Welfare Board of India vs A. Nagaraja case. Thus, from 2014 to 2016, the Tamil Nadu government imposed a ban on Jallikattu.
  • This step by the state faced unprecedented protests, thus in 2017, the Tamil Nadu government brought an amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, of 1960.
  • The amendment was passed on the grounds that the bull-taming sport is a cultural heritage of the State and is protected under Article 29 (1) of the Constitution. 
  • Soon after, the Rules to implement the Act were also passed. The rules laid down the following:
  1. A committee on Jallikattu that comprises officials from the Revenue, Animal Husbandry, Police and Health Departments, should oversee and monitor the conduct of the sport. 
  2. The participants are permitted only to embrace the bull by the hump and run along with the bull for 15 m or for 30 seconds or sustain three jumps of the bull. 
  3. They shall not hold on to the tail or horns using their hands or restrict the movement of the bulls by holding on to their legs.

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Intensifying safety measures

  • Increased Responsibility: The concerns over the Jallikattu events increase the district administration's responsibility to ensure human safety and that the bulls are not tortured.
  • Balancing Approach: The State has to play a delicate balancing act, given the local fervour for the sport and the rules that they must follow. 
  • Limiting the Number of Bulls: To restrict the number of Bulls and tamers both have been selected through a computer-based lot system.
  • Selection of Bull: Veterinarians have to check the bulls on various parameters, including height, breed, age and colour. Only native bulls aged more than three years and without any injury or infection are certified to take part in Jallikattu. Eligibility criteria for bulls to participate include a minimum height of 120 cm, normal gait, horns that are not sharp and regular vaccination.
  • Selection of Tamers: A physical fitness certificate is mandatory for bull tamers. A double-vaccination certificate for COVID-19 along with an RT-PCR negative report is a must for participating tamers and spectators.
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): Clear instructions on adhering to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), including the installation of double barricades from the vadivasal to the bull run area have been issued. 

New arrangements

  • Metal Barricades: The Madurai District Police has set up metal barricades in some venues so that the barriers do not come crashing down under the pressure of a surging crowd. 
  • Preventing Unauthorized entry: This year, the barricade entry system will ensure there is a kilometre-long queue through which the registered bulls will be let in. 
  • Medical teams for tamers and bulls, along with ambulances, will be on standby.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q. 1 What does Jallikattu mean?

Answer: 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. It is basically a violent bull-taming sport that has traditionally been part of the festival of Pongal since more than 2000 years.

Q. 2 Why is Jallikattu celebrated?

Answer: Jallikattu is a bull-taming sport that has traditionally been part of the festival of Pongal. The festival is a celebration of nature, and thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest, of which cattle worship is part.

Q. 3 Which place is famous for Jallikattu?

Answer: Jallikattu is a traditional event that is common in Tamil Nadu in which people, mostly male youth, try to grab a bull by its horns and 'tame it' as it resists.

News Source: The Hindu, The Indian Express

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/jallikattu-bullish-on-sport-now-safety-too/article66377965.ece

https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/jallikattu-tamil-nadu-pongal-celebrations-explained-7147339/

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