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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.

You want to make a change? Please sign this petition

https://www.change.org/p/president-of-india-save-humanity-stop-animal-cruelty-ban-jallikattu?source_location=minibar

Let’s stay united for the Animals.

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12 Comments »

  1. I am a தமிழன் who supports Jallikatu. Not a vegan. And I’m not going to abuse you 🙂 respect your views and moral stance. Ultimately, the arguement comes down to extinction of native breed. Yes, they’re castrating majority of the bulls, but this is the only successful system on ground which can ensure. Ideally, government should setup an alternate system to ensure survival of native breeds, but given our capitalistic and corrupt society, we know that’s not going to happen.
    And I agree that there is cruelty during Jallikatu, the supporters are stating that only one person grabs the hump, but I’ve seen live coverage before, that’s not the case. As far as claims about alcohol being fed to cows, beaten up, etc, I refuse to believe that there is no cruelty; no system can claim to be perfect. But this doesn’t mean we should ban it; if we’re to ban an activity for every negative aspect then we should be banning religion, capitalism, etc..
    In this case, Jallikatu can be regulated. Prevention of cruelty is possible, though the regulatory system may not be perfect, % of animal abuse instances can be brought down drastically.
    Let’s say it’s brought down to 30%, you may argue that even 1% is injustice. But is such a high moral stance worth it? Human society must evolve to an utopian society, but it has to evolve gradually, unless there is an absolute necessity, like climate change.
    In this post truth society, which is frighteningly similar to 1930s, the liberals must accommodate lower moral standards which rest consider as the norm. Else, they risk having all their views ridiculed and liberal progress lost(that’s what happened after the 1930s). For example, imagine how I would be looked upon if I state that inheritance has to be banned(i believe each child should be given proper and equal opportunity and each human should earn her/his bread).
    Is banning Jallikatu worth the anger and isolation the people of this state are feeling, when a regulatory system to drastically reduce animal cruelty in the event is possible?

    I am not asking you to accept 30% cruelty, absolute justice is a beautiful idea and it should thrive in our minds and be passed on to future generations. But please consider what’s practical in our present generation and let’s build the present system based upon it, not on an utopian idea. We can’t afford another collapse of the liberal world..!! I mean, look around, Trump, Erdogan, RSS, ISIS, Duterte, the collapse already begun..

    Please reply or mail me @ hariprsd.p@gmail.com, if you think my views are wrong. I am not a good writer/blogger, so don’t judge my rationality based on this comment 🙂 though it doesn’t matter much, I apologize for the abuse and hatred that you were subjected to.

    • Appreciate your kind gesture Hari 🙂 .
      I read through your whole comment. You mentioned you don’t agree with the way bulls are treated. Here is a link for proof –> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coZvTRHt2m4 .A bull never gets provoked without taking these measures. Even provoked a bull will never attack unless until you start tampering with him, another proof link –> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBb–SWejBY .With this as the scenario, I don’t see any way to regulate this process (when the only way to go about it is to hurt the bull). You mentioned a good point on a climate change, have you seen the documentary cowspiracy? trailer–> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vpLVA0xNME .If not i do suggest you to watch, it is a beautiful one that sheds lime light on the truth – How animal agriculture is the number one reason for climate change yet all the big org are keeping it quiet (since that is also the money making business). Growing/breeding animal takes up the land, food, water and increases waste production (animal feces) and there is no sustainable way to go about it. I assure you this is a big reason for climate change. You have mentioned you accept the castration happening to bulls, but you say it is for the best. But on what grounds? When human intervention stops, the bulls can breed and produce more. But this is being stopped by the people. There used to be 136 breeds of native breeds and due to this practice it has come down to 6. How sad is that! I can say you one thing for sure, if this keeps up we are going to lose what we have already. You made a good point on – the government’s help to maintain the breed, building a farm sanctuary for saving these breeds would be the most best way to go about it.
      I agree with you the world isn’t getting any better to live in, that does not mean we make it more worse to be inhabitable …right? Many were coming up to me and saying stop the cow slaughter houses, beef ban etc. So just because a bull/cow is going through more horrible things, we also do our part of torturing it? How does that make it justice?
      The whole tamilnadu did not protest so much for water (when so many farmers – human life died) Somehow a particular caste has made belive the whole tamilnadu that this is the only and oldest tamil culture.
      And I’m a madurai resident myself! Grown up watching this jalikattu , those days no one gave a damn about it and now everyone seems to have a opinion about it 🙂
      No tradition/culture/practice is worth the life of a living being. For all life are precious.

      A vegan lifestyle helps to make the planet a better place to live in. Think about it! Do your research and think from out of the box not from the society’s perspective that we have been trained to be a slave for 🙂 .

      • I completely understand your stance Niru. I personally went through the same, my own family people (my mom too 🙂 ) and relatives are against me , angry and pissed at me when i share the bitter truth in Facebook. When people are ready to overthrow their own family, friends, government and the country iteslf! why wouldn’t they do it to peta? But PETA should comeback strong.
        I fear, this is going to affect the animal cruelty law! in India. All the bans they placed before will slowly start coming back!? probably beef, animal testing, cow slaughter.
        I know it frustrates being the conscious one among the ignorant souls. I know our number is less, but our cause is stronger. Keep giving your voice! up. Keep up your good work. One day lets hope that the cruel world opens up to compassion. 🙂
        With everyday a vegan is born, we make a change and save more animals 🙂 What we do never goes in vain. Let the tamil people know we are still here.

  2. Fellow Tamilian vegan here and happy to read your account! As a vegan, I absolutely dont want any species to perish (which seems to be the reason people support this), but as a basic tenet, using animals for sport or pleasure (or food) when so many other options are available is unacceptable to me – be it Jallikattu or Spanish Bull Fights or whatever. That people have been doing it for centuries doesnt make it acceptable. If that were the case, women’s oppression and slavery would be par for the course.

    It makes me sad to see my facebook feed be bombarded by such pro-jalIikattu-ism. And seeing Peta branded as a terrorist organization – oh, the things we learn from social media. I dont know the dynamics of Non profit organizations in a political climate such as ours, but my understanding is that Peta usually opposes all animal cruelty – maybe they just pick their battles? I am aggrieved that after this fiasco people will not trust anything PETA claims, especially towards eating a vegan diet for the sake of animals, an important issue.

    I realize there are no short cut solutions, but one can wish. I dream of animal sanctuaries where such endangered species can thrive and enjoy their life without fear of cruelty.

  3. Hi Abi,
    1) Bulls/cows will attack without being tempted. It has attacked me, I wasn’t gored, but it has attacked me and I swear I didn’t provoke it 🙂 honest.. once it gored my sister as well, when she was a kid, she showing off a Hamam soap to a bull and it gored her down.. 😂😂😂 Point is, I don’t think that there is enough research on this, simply because of the logic that there isn’t enough research in human behavioural science and hence there can’t be sufficient research in cattle behaviour.
    2) Climate change- yes animal farming is a cause. But the drastic change to reduce global warming should be concentrated on other energy, industries and transport, which are far bigger contributers.
    3) Castration is best because these are domestic animals. Without human intervention, I doubt they’ll survive, we don’t have pastures and water supply everywhere, especially in South TN. Arguement that no of native breeds has come down even when Jallikattu took place, is not a valid one. I was told that, not all 136 breeds were in the places where Jallikattu was practised. I haven’t researched in detail, but let’s take one breed. Kangeyam. Without Jallikattu or government help, it won’t survive. Govt help will never happen. So, make do with what you’ve. Which is Jallikattu. Here, it’s not about justice, it’s about survival. Farmers won’t domesticate this breed without any incentive, so Jallikattu has to happen. Removing human intervention is dangerous, we have no idea how it will affect it’s survivability. Without a robust research, jumping to conclusions may prove to the breed.
    4) Animal rights- as I mentioned earlier, it must not be shoved down people’s throat. There are a lot other changes (failure of which are causing direct damage to scores of humans, which is worse than animals being abused. Yes, I am selfishly placing humans above animals) that we should prioritize, An individual or a group can only take so much of change at a time. For instance, let’s take dress culture. Most of the rural and conservative society hold a view that our women shouldn’t wear western clothing. And the other side argue that it’s their right to wear what they choose, which is correct. But imagine the reaction of majority of the people who support western wear, if someone walks naked in a public place. Most pro western clothing people would be against it. But that would be unfair, as the person should be allowed to wear whatever he/she wishes or go naked, thus making the pro western clothes people hypocrites. That is justice. But it would be too much for any society/group to accept this high level of justice right now. Maybe in time, maybe with gradual reasoning they’ll accept it. So education is the best way to go about this, instead of imposing laws and bans.
    We assume that it is by decision and choice that we’re liberal, but if you look deeply it’s by habit. Read Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
    Also we should view this from a moral and practical angle. Drastic changes must be dealt with care. They cause a collateral damage, which is isolation of the society which is majorily affected bh the change, in this case rural society. US saw a civil war(13th amendment); and in our country the rural soceity is getting distanced from urban society, because of the drastic cultural changes that are being put on them. Some are a must, like pro-women rights, anti-caste, etc as the failure to implement these changes will directly affect scores of fellow humans. And in these cases, collateral damage(isolation of rural population) has to be accepted. But animal rights is a topic in much we will do better to avoid this collateral damage. Main reason is, the more isolated they feel, the higher is the chance that they’ll vote for a populist anti-liberal conservative government, which is catastrophic( you could say BJP is that. But it could get worse, take Turkey for example, where liberals are getting locked up), or in other words, higher chance of reaching 1930s. Would you risk getting dragged to that world for animal rights?? All a matter of finding the right balance..

    • Hi Hari, nice to hear from you again 🙂

      1) There is a diff between a rabid dog and a innocent one thrown into a dog fight. Bulls can get pissed off too, they have all emotions like you. That does not make it okay to shove a peaceful animal (of course you provoke him to take that away) into arena of mad man 🙂 (you see it does not want to be there)
      2) Haha 😀 the animal agriculture is 51% source of climate change and global warming. The transport, industry etc is 13%. Do the math! Like i said educate yourself watch cowspiracy documentary. Not just climate change also all depletion in the fresh water, land & oxygen and major cause of world hunger..
      3) Castration best?! A bull is fertile from the age 8-15 months and It can live up to 15-20 years.So imagine how many calves he can produce without the human intervention (minimum of 15-20 calves in his lifetime and imagine how many more the calves can produce when the grow up). They will definitely survive by eating grass and drinking water without the govt and human intervention. Exactly the framers are just using this as a an excuse to get incentive from govt and having it for personal use, see no one gives a damn about the bull, its the bull being used as a commodity. Ofcourse we don’t have water, land for breeding them (which is unwanted and not our job/decision/responsibility). My suggestion was to build a farm sanctuary, like the ones we have for wild animals (saving tigers and lions). Urge the govt to build on to save the bulls (if that is what you really care about). You need common sense not a robust research 🙂 to know jalikattu is the root cause of the bulls endangered. …..Wait and see, now that this is to be started again, you are going to lose what you already have. Our future generations will never know of such animal.
      4) I ignored the rest of your typing after i read you that you “place humans above all animals” 🙂 … You are not being selfish but being egoistic and ignorant towards other living beings. You prefer to live on the death and suffering of other animals? See care about your fellow humans that isn’t wrong, what makes you think you are superior than the animals? Mind you, you yourself just another animal/species on this planet. This does not have to come with animal rights but your own brain , you should right from wrong. Raping,killing,murdering,torturing and exporting an animal is no different than a human being. It isn’t a justification or personal choice but arrogance and ignorance. The animals never came and passed a law in the govt to save them, that is an act of kindness from human beings.
      Do you also know the practice we humans do by killing/exploiting/raping/breeding animals is also the cause of the death of human being? All the food produced are fed to cattle to breed them (instead the same could be given to human beings), and every year 2.5 billion children are dyeing because of hunger. And india tops the list 15% of our own population. You are selfish about humans, what are you going to do to stop this? Make the connection. Look around you , we are killing the planet and our fellow human beings. When you have nothing left food, water, shelter…. do you think your culture/language is going to feed you?
      Be scared of your fellow humans not the innocent animals. Leave them off you plate and life.

  4. Haha 😁 This is classic Elitist attitude. You must read after “place humans above all animals”. And start reading about behavioural science. Else, the only people who’ll listen to you will be the reasonable ones(who without your help will eventually figure out the right path). And problem with the world is, majority aren’t reasonable. If you want to really help, be more considerate towards the people who need to change.

    • I agree not all are reasonable, everyone may not listen to me. If people figure out without my help that exploiting animals in any way is wrong one way or the other that is a victory. But just because they don’t agree with me, does not make my way wrong 🙂 you know. I only feel sorry for them..more so for their deeds. I can’t change a person who does not want to. What they say… “you can only take the donkey to water but can’t make it drink”.. 🙂 I will always care more for the real victims … animals <3

      • Everyone would want to change, if they had understood the moral reason and the need for the change. Problem is, vast majority doesn’t realise these things.
        And I pray that you’ll trouble yourself more than “I can’t change a person who doesn’t want to change”. I pray that you’ll try to reason with others, with a ton lot more diplomacy.
        There is no other way to achieve a world where all lives are let to live freely. Think about it and please find a better path that suits you, “I can’t change a person who doesn’t want to change” is not enough. Please!!

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