Jallikattu or ( Sallikkattu), which is also known as eru thazhuvuthal and manju virattu, is a traditional spectacle in which a Bos indicus bull, commonly belonged to the Kangayam breed is released into a mob of people and many human participants attempt to grab the bull’s hump with both arms and hang on to it while the bull attempts to escape. Participants must have to hold the hump for as long as possible, attempting to bring the bull to a stop. In some cases, participants must ride long enough to remove flags on the bull’s horns.
Jallikattu is typically practiced in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu on Matttu Pongal Day as a part of Pongal celebrations.
There are some general rules to Jallikattu:
1. The bull will be released on the arena through the vadi vasal i.e. an entry gate.
2. The participant should only hold the bull by its hump. Holding the bull by the neck, horns or tail results in disqualification.
3. The participant should hold the bull’s hump only for 30 seconds or for 4.6 metres (15 ft), whichever is the longer when the bull attempts to escape.
4. If the bull throws the participant off before the line or if no-one manages to hold on to the bull, then the bull will be declared as victorious.
5. If the participant manages to hold on to the hump till it crosses the finish line, then the participant is declared as the winner.
6. Only one participant should hold on to the bull at one time. If more than one holds on to the bull, then there is no winner.
7. No participant should hit or hurt the bull in any manner.
Preparation and training
With the introduction of the Jallikattu Regulation Act – 2009 by the Tamil Nadu legislative, the following activities were done in preparing the event:
1. A written permission is obtained from the respective collector, thirty days before to conduct of event along with notification of the event location.
2. The arena and the way through which the bulls pass through are double-barricaded to avoid injuries to the spectators and bystanders who may be permitted to remain within the barricades.
3. The necessary gallery areas are built up along the double barricades.
4. The necessary permissions are obtained from the collector for the participants and the bulls fifteen days before.
5. Final preparation before the event includes a complete testing by the senior authorities of the Animal Husbandry Department, to ensure that performance enhancement drugs, liquor or other irritants are not used on the bulls.
Ban, protest and authorization
On January 21, 2017, the Governor of Tamil Nadu issued a new ordinance that authorized the continuation of Jallikattu events. On January 23, 2017 the Tamil Nadu legislature passed a bill, with the accession of the Prime Minister, exempting Jallikattu from the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1960).
The first legal Jallikattu under this exemption is scheduled on 1st February 2017 in Alanganallur, district Madurai.