Monday, May 10, 2010

Jallikattu: Taming the Bulls in India

In the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, people don’t need red capes and sharp swords to tame bulls they do it with their bare hands, in a sport called Jallikkattu.

The ancient sport of Jallikattu pits crowds of brave young men against angry bulls who will tear anyone apart, if they get in the way. Jallikatu, in Tamil language, means 'Bull Taming' or ‘Bull Fight’. Jallikatu is derived from two different words ‘salli’ and ‘katu.’ In Tamil Salli means coin (may be gold coin) and katu means tying the coin either in the neck strap or around the horns of the raging bull. Youths will attempt to grab the money and the bull will counter them and even injure them. Finally the tamer gets the coin. Some compare jallikatu to Spain's bullfights.

But that’s is a lot harder than it sounds, especially since the bulls used for Jallikattu are extremely aggressive, and the players aren’t allowed to defend themselves with anything else but their bare hands. The bravest of the young men will try to grab the hump of the bull, and hang on, while the beast will most often grab him with its long horns and plunge him into the ground.

Tens of thousands of participants and onlookers gather whenever a Jallikattu game is scheduled, and most of the times hundreds of them end up in the hospital, with serious injuries, and some of them lose their lives. A centuries old tradition, in the Tamil Nadu region, Jallikattu was banned in 2008, following accusations that the bulls are fed alcohol and chili is sprayed in their face, to make them more aggressive. The ban was later removed, but the animals are now checked by a team of veterinarians, before Jallikattu.

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Anonymous said...

those are not bulls but oxen. bulls and cows are sacred animals in india. doing something like this to a bull would get people into a lot of trouble.