A revolt of this magnitude shows the unity and consensus amongst the Tamil speaking people all over the world regarding the Supreme Court ban on Jallikattu. But why is this festival so important for the community? We would like to discuss the significance of this age old tradition and explain why it is celebrated.
Jallikattu is the bull taming sport which is an integral part of Mattu Pongal: third day in the four day long harvest festival of Pongal. Pongal is one of the most important festival for Tamilians, it is celebrated during Thai month in the Tamil calendar and that is why the festival is also known locally as Thai Pongal. This time of the year is considered auspicious by other communities in India as well and many other festivals like Lohri, Bihu, Makar Sankranti and Bhogi is converge during the same time of the year.
Being a harvest festival, Pongal is all about worshiping and pleasing all aspects of nature which are crucial for the farmer. First day Indra, the God of rain is worshiped, Sun God is the deity worshiped in the second day, the third day is spent revering the farmers most prized possessions, his cattle. This day is known as Mattu Pongal (Mattu translates to cattle in Tamil). The fourth day marks the end of the festival with puja and rituals by women in the household for the wellbeing of their brothers.
The third day of Pongal or Mattu Pongal is celebrated by decorating cattle with flowers and Garlands. Cow races and Processions are conducted, but Jallikattu or the traditional bull taming event is the star attraction among other celebrations. The charging bulls are let loose into the gathering and the brave men who cling on to its hump and untie the ribbon or flag tied on to its head are rewarded (obviously there would be fatalities). Jallikattu is now a part of celebrating the Mattu Pongal but it had been practiced in the ancient Tamil country for hundreds of years. It has been known to be practiced as long back as 400-100 BC. Seals and cave paintings of ancient civilizations depicting the sport has been discovered. This shows how deep rooted the sport have been in our culture. Jallikattu unlike its western version practiced in European countries like Spain does not end with killing the animal but instead consecrating the bull with pujas and special offerings. Eruthazhuval was the name of the sport during its early days, it translates to hugging the bull. Later on the Bravery and prize money involved gained more importance and it became popularly known as Jallikattu which roughly translates to sack of coins which is rewarded for the brave men.
While animal cruelty is a matter of concern, the celebration and the age old tradition is all about embracing the bull which is a farmer’s best friend. While precautions need to be taken to ensure both animals and people are not hurt, banning such a beautiful tradition which had been part of a community’s culture for so long is not an amicable solution.
Know more about Indian traditions and its significance.