Chapter 2 #The Jallikattu (Bull fight) Dispute. From the eyes of a Tamil vegan.
Being a person from TamilNadu myself, i couldn’t help but talk about it. This is going to be one of my long post’s 🙂 so grab your favorite tea/coffee and let’s get started…
For people who are not understanding what i’m referring to, a quick intro. Jallikattu is a traditional sport (that’s what they like to refer to as) of bull fight hosted and played during the south Indian Tamil festival Pongal. The festival has different names at different parts of India. This is farmer’s harvest festival which is celebrated for 3 days. This is a practice, in place for the last 2500 -3000 years. It started as an entertainment event and featured as a platform for the men to show off their masculine strength. Gifts (clothes, utensils etc.) and money rewards were given to encourage the participants. The person who gets to hug the bull and go for a particular distance without falling off are considered to be winners. This sport had started to receive opposition by PETA and animal activists since 2004 due to the ill treatment of the bulls. The Supreme court of India ended up banning this practice in 2010. People kept protesting to bring this back. In 2014 this ban was upheld again. Recently Jan 2017 another plea was turned down by SC in support of this ban.
I was immensely happy with this outcome. But not all tamilian’s could accept this. Majority of the people are pissed and frustrated. Their tamil ego and pride is so high to digest the loss of this “tradition/sport”. The supporters are not just people with little or no education or whose life depends on it. The supporters are people from all fields and backgrounds with good educational qualification , some working in abroad countries , the youth & the elderly. And mostly the people who gets no benefit from this.
Well you might think what the fuss is about? There lies the irony. Let me shed some light on the whole truth.
Treatment of the Bulls: There are 6 native (belong and found only in tamilnadu) breeds of this bull used in the sport. When the bulls reach adolescence, they are exposed to the sport little bit so the bulls get the feel of it by the owners (mostly village farmers). They are observed how they take it and which one has better performance or shows optimistic results. The best bulls are chosen separately which will be treated with special food and care (maintenance of these bulls are always referred to be expensive by the farmers). The bulls which did not make the cut are CASTRATED with no vet or professional doctor and without any anesthetics. The bull is surrounded and all 4 legs are tied up , and is made to lie down. And the horror show takes place. So they are not able to reproduce (since the owner believes the bull has poor genes and does not want it to be carried forward). Later they are used in agricultural work. The chosen bulls are “supposedly” considered as family members and raised with love and care. On the day of Jallikattu these bulls have to be in agitated state so they can participate. The bulls are provoked to be angry, scared, nervous and terrified overall. This is done by feeding alcoholic drinks to the bull. The alcohol is forced down the throat of the bull. Red chili powder is rubbed in the genitals of the bull and thrown into its eyes. The bull’s tail is twisted, bitten and pulled. A spiked tool is used to prick, nudge and beat the bull. The rope that runs through the bulls nostrils are pulled. The family member somehow becomes a tool of torment.
Tournament: The board of Jallikattu members claim the bulls and the players are tested for alcohol. However that is an impossible task considering no proper check/validation process in place and the number of people/bulls participating. The arena of the tournament has no security measures to separate the players from the audience. Many scenarios took place where the bull ran into the crowd causing casualties and death of people and children. When the bull is opened and allowed to run through the ground, only one person is allowed to hop and hold on to the bull. However it is almost always a group of 5-10 jumping over a single bull. More than 1000 deaths have been reported because of the same.
I recently wrote a status in my personal FB against the jallikattu practice and i was bombarded with loads of hate. However none of them provided a rational explanation when i tried to reason with them.
Logic and Reasoning from the supporters: The people almost have the same reasons for the support of this barbaric practice.
- IT IS OUR CULTURE / TRADITION: Practices like sati (burning widow alive in fire) and child marriage were also traditions once followed do you suggest them to be bought back? Probably people started it for entertainment purpose when there was no TV or internet. Aren’t we all evolved enough to know better than this? Why follow a barbaric practice in name of the tradition and hurt the innocent animal as well as a human life.
- IT’S A SPORT TO PROVE OUR MASCULINE STRENGTH: Please google the definition of a sport. A sport is a physical activity/skill of an individual or a team against others. There is no involvement of an animal and its ill treatment. There are million ways you could prove/use your masculine strength. Please join the army guard our country, help people, help the country, flourish in other physical fitness industries or sports. How does hanging on a bull’s hump for 10 seconds proves your masculinity?
- SAVE THE BULL’s BREED: This sport is seen to save the bull’s breed? In what sense. You select one or two out 10 bulls and castrate the remaining causing the breed to stop its reproduction. Stop doing that insanity they will flourish naturally without the human intervention. If you really think and care about them, then please build a FARM SANCTUARY or urge the government to build one. Let the bulls mate, reproduce and have a life there. The farmers and the owners claim they save the bull by not letting them get slaughtered. However on the other hand when the bulls become old and canot compete further they are sold out to slaughter houses for their leather. In the year 2014 when jallikattu got banned, almost all the bulls got sold out for cheap prices (lesser than their actual value) to slaughter houses since their maintanence cost is very high. As there was no more jallikattu they figured there is going to be no use of these bulls.
- ONE OUT OF THE SIX BREED BECAME EXTINCT AND THE REST ARE ENDANGERED: The extinction of the bull started from the last 15 years. The jallikattu ban is only in place from last 4-6 years. So in no way jallikattu is helping to increase the breed or causing the extinction. The selective breeding of the bulls by the farmers/owners and killing/hurting of the bulls in the tournaments are resulting in the extinction.
- FOREIGN CORPORATES and ORG LIKE PETA TAKING OVER: Many Tamilian’s have been angered by PETA. They feel these bulls are only available in tamilnadu and PETA is planning to take over, resulting in use of foreign breed cows and bulls in India. All the PETA supporters like celebrities (especially women) and politicians were shamed and ridiculed by the mob. The CEO of PETA received death and rape threats. You don’t have to like PETA to see the animal suffering. It still does not give logical answer why to continue this practice? PETA or not, the bull is still going to be endangered and tormented. Is this what the Tamilnadu culture had taught you to do? Insulting and raping a women. This only brings shame to the language and state.
- THE A1/A2 MILK TYPE: It is said most of the cow breeds in USA have A1 type milk which has a mutated gene. This is considered to have adverse effect on health and is toxic. The tamilnadu native hump bulls help in the A2 milk production (Along with the cows of course, by producing healthy and non mutated offsprings). Extinction of these cows will result to affect the milk production. Even you save male breed i highly doubt the milk production of a female cow is in any sense related to the male bull!? Any milk of type A1 or A2 has casein that causes cancer. A cow’s milk is meant for baby calves and not human beings. It is always going to be unnatural.
- BAN THE OTHER ANIMAL CRUELTY LIKE HORSE RACE ETC, FIRST: This is the most encountered reason. I will support any ban against animal cruelty. The beef ban, animal testing ban and cow slaughter ban placed in India will have my full support. Anyone expressing their wish to revoke them will definitely be questioned on grounds of animal cruelty. When you point finger in the direction of other issues, you clearly accept the cruelty involved in this practice and you don’t have a solid supportive answer hence you play blame games to escape the situation.
The angry mob is very much determined to conduct and continue this practice against the law. They are blaming the government and court not giving respect to their tradition. Some of them demanding for separation of the state as an induvidual country.
This is really an upsetting behavior from my fellow state people. All you have to do is reason yourself with logic. Going to extreme measures , standing agains the law, dividing the country, using “Language” as an egoistic matter and continuing illogical practices. It is very easy to follow the crowd, it takes immense braveness to have compassion over cruelty and question the practices. A vegan lifestyle would give you the education and truthful knowledge. Are you going to stay in dark or come to light? You decide. Let’s make peace not war.
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Let’s stay united for the Animals.