Why I protested

I support the amending the Performing Circus Animals Act to exclude the bull. I support the sport that is Jallikattu. Why?

The answer to such questions can be very simple. I can just say, “Why not?” and be done with it – I need no reason to support or oppose anything. I can do so on my freewill. But in fact, my reasons are logical ones.

How did the youth of this Southern state suddenly and spontaneously come to rise up in unision against a law? Certainly no single entity or person can force or even coerce so many people to protest. The fact that the protests have had no real leader except the masses themselves further strengthens that logic.

It bewilders the political powerhouses of the state and the nation alike – how could youth who usually bicker over petty things, fight in the name of fans of one actor and are largely viewed as adrift and wandering, come together in such a show of strength.

I have never witnessed Jallikattu in my life and yes, I would not participate in it either. Yet I support the movement. I was in fact very skeptical about the protests at first – I felt that it was just a simple sport that we could very well do without. But then upon pondering and searching for answers, I realised that all those WhatsApp forwards about indigenous cattle extinction and the role Jallikattu played in preserving and strenghtening our indigenous breeds were in fact true.

I support Jallikattu, not because it is part of Tamil culture and heritage but because it makes sense to me.

Here are some of the common arguments that I have heard so far against the sport:

  1. “People get killed, we should ban it”
    Petr Cech escaped death by a whisker when he was injured playing football. Phil Hughes died as a result of the injury he sustained playing cricket. Such instances are countless – fatal injuries can happen in any sport. Do we ban them all?
    One thing common to all these injuries and victims and perhaps the most beautiful thing about them is that not one of those players would say that they would have not ventured into the sport. Brave men participate in Jallikattu on their own volition. If you feel that the sport is dangerous, then join me in not participating. But you can certainly not ban a sport on such frivolous grounds.
  2. “The bulls are harmed”
    Bulls and cows are revered in our society. This respect is much more evident in the agrarian villages across the country. Quite simply, a sport could not have survived for eons. Here are some of the rules of Jallikattu:

    • The bull will be released on the the arena through the vadi vasal, an entry gate.
    • The contestant should only hold the bull by its hump. Holding by the neck, horns or tail results in disqualification.
    • The tamer should hold the bull for 30 seconds or for 15 feet (4.6 m), whichever is longer when the bull runs.
    • If the bull throws the contestant off before the line or if no-one manages to hold on to the bull, then the bull will be declared victorious.
    • If the contestant manages to hold on to the hump till it crosses the finish line, then the contestant is declared the winner.
    • Only one contestant should hold on to the bull at one time. If more than one contestant holds on to the bull, then there is no winner.
    • No contestant should hit or hurt the bull in any manner.

    I agree that there are lesser men among us who do indulge in malpractice. But are there no fouls in football? We simply need better enforcement of these rules.Further, if the bull sustains any injury, it is viewed as a bad omen for the entire village and utmost care is afforded to prevent such

  3. “Jallikattu is not needed to preserve indigenous breeds”
    Do you then suggest we rear them like our tigers in zoos? We must realise that bulls have only two purposes in the agrarian scene: to service cows and to draw agricultural implements.
    The plough has been replaced by the tractor so the second reason to rear a bull is lost. To rear a bull only to service cows is expensive. Native breeds are known to be more expensive to maintain. If at all a poor farmer decides against selling his bull to a slaughterhouse, it is evident that he would rather feed the cows which give him milk than the useless bull. As a result, the bulls remain unhealthy. Jallikattu provides the farmer a better incentive to rear healthy and strong bulls in terms of monetary value if his bull wins the event and more importantly, in terms of pride.

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