The last word is yet to be said on the top court’s ban on the conduct of jallikattu (bull taming), a sport popular in rural Tamil Nadu held in celebration of the annual harvest festival, Pongal.
The last word is yet to be said on the top court’s ban on the conduct of jallikattu (bull taming), a sport popular in rural Tamil Nadu held in celebration of the annual harvest festival, Pongal. However, the great compassion that a two-judge bench showered on animals in their obiter dicta suggests that the Supreme Court will just not permit the sport since it clearly inflicts untold miseries on animals. The same argument would also hold good against the running of bullock (rekla) races popular in Maharashtra and any other forms of entertainment like cockfights involving cruelty to animals. The judges’ concern for animals came through in every line they spoke. The suggestion that people would be better off playing computer games was particularly stinging and should bring a sense of shame in these enlightened times even as the dichotomy in compassion to cows and cruelty to bulls was pithily brought out.
The issue has become deeply political in Tamil Nadu where the taming of bulls is seen not just as a “valorous” sport but as a part of the ancient Tamil culture in which rearing of bulls is tied to entertainment at annual fetes. For the sake of argument, even the Centre said religion is tied to this exhibition of man taming bulls, although the animals suffer the most in preparation for the event in which chilli powder is sprayed into their eyes and they are fed alcohol. The ruling party at the Centre may have played along to stoke Tamil sentiment as a means of gaining popularity, but it has not gone the whole hog in passing any new legislation to permit jallikattu to take place since it was banned by the Supreme Court and only passed a notification, excluding the “bull” from the list of “performing animals”. The Tamils would be better off if they give up hope of staging their “bullfights”.