November 18, 2016
Despite a strong plea put forth by Tamil Nadu government, the Supreme Court recently showed reluctance to revoke the Jallikattu ban. But while the apex court demanded to know as why it should revoke a ban slapped on a ‘Roman style gladiator sport’, which was cruel to the bull, Jallikattu enthusiasts are hoping that the bull taming sport will be revived, if the Centre acts by removing the bull from the performing animals list or if the state upholds its right as cattle is ‘a state subject’ as per the Constitution.
Balakumar Soman of the Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Peravai maintains that the sport is a means of livelihood for the farmer in the Jallikattu belt. In all the 14 districts here, including Madurai, Theni, Sivagangangi, Trichy and Pudukkottai, many farmer families would rear bull calves of native breeds, such as alambadi, pulikulam and kangayam, which would fetch a prize of up to Rs 4 lakh, when the Jallikattu was in vogue.
“But now kangayam cows are only bought as milch animals; they give a nutrient -dense milk free from harmful proteins such as A1 beta-casein found in hybrid varieties. A litre of milk fetches as much as Rs 140 in the market,” said V Sivakumar of Konga Goshala, a conservation centre for the konga breed of kangayam cattle.
Brushing aside the fact that Jallikattu is a risky sport for the animal and the tamer, Sivakumar says it has been in vogue since the days of the Indus civilisation and comparing it to the Roman sport is wrong, since it was neither imported nor as risky as a matador sport. “The sport is rooted in Tamil culture and religion,” he said.
“Even Tamils who migrate to distance shores such as Malaysia and Burma practise the bull taming sport to this day,” asserted Balakumar Soman of Activists for Righteous Harmony of Animals Movement Trust.
The kangayam cattle population has come down from 10 lakh a decade back to 90,000 today. “The practice of using native bulls as draught animals has also decreased due to the mechanisation of agriculture and farming practices.
If we Tamils want to conserve the native breeds, an adventure sport like Jallikattu would serve that purpose,” said Sivakumar.