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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

6th July and Bull fighting - Is it really a game ?

Dear (s)

Courts have thousands of cases pending and on 26th Aug 2009 (Avani 10, Thiruvalluvar Andu 2040) there was an extra ordinary gazette notification. Many of you may not have read about this. But this impacted the southern part of Tamilnadu in a huge way. It has its place in Sangam literature and considered a game of honour.

Jallikattu (Aeru thazhuvuthal) is a bull taming sport played in Tamilnadu as part of Tamilnadu celebration. Unlike its western cousin, the bull is seldom killed and here the matadors do not use any weapons. It is also known as manju virattu – chasing the bull.

Is it daredevilry ? a game ? or torturing bulls or losing men trying to prove their valour ? what happens to those who get killed ? and lose their limbs / senses ? - answers depend on perception.
Animal lovers went to Court seeking ban and a Bench considered it barbaric involving cruelty of animals; Govt pleaded it a sport and now there are restrictions in place.

In this game (!) an agitated bull is set to run in an open space, where several youth, empty handed try to tame it by controlling its horns. The winner gets a booty, becomes darling of the crowd. The most famous ones are held in and around Madurai at Alanganallur, Avaniapuram, Palemedu, Thammampatti in Salem,  Ponnamaravathi in Pudukottai, Pallavarayanpatti near Theni to name a few. In 2007, for the first time, both the bulls and the matadors of the famed Alanganallur Jallikattu were subjected to breathalyser test to ensure that they had not consumed alcohol.

On 6th July every year rocket is set off in the morning to alert the runners that corral gate is open. With the next one, six bulls and six steers are released. If you are still debating jallikattu, the venue is different.

IT IS SPAIN AND THE EVENT IS the festival of of San Fermin, or the Pamplona bull running, which is held on 6th July every year. Thousands of people congregate in the square. They claim its origin to 13th century. The Running of bulls is a practice that involves running in front of six bulls let loose on a course of sectioned-off subset of a town’s streets. This reportedly is held in many villages across Spain, Portugal and some in Mexico and France as well. The sad part is that these bulls which are transported from their offsite corrals would get killed in the evening in a show of bravado.

Here also injuries are common to the participants who may be gored, trampled and mauled as also bulls whose hooves grip poorly on the paved and cobbled street surfaces. The bulls are run through set wooden or iron barricades which allow runners to exit at times of danger. The Pamplona enciero is most popular and is broadcast live by some TV channels, being the high profile event of San Fermin festival.

There is another gory game : Spanish bull fighting, a popular sport (!!) conducted in an arena where the bull enters the ring, then an assistance waves a bright yellow and magenta cape infront to anger it, the top fighter called Matador and fighters Picadores weaken the bull by piercing spears. The matador has a sword called espada; the bull eventually drops dead. There could be rules and variations, which we may not understand much.

In case you are interested in the TN Regulation of Jallikattu Rules, 2009. : It provides for examination of bulls at least three hours before the commencement of the event that no performance enhancement drugs have been administered to the bulls in any form; and casts responsibility on the Organiser that the bulls are allowed into the arena one after another and that a bull that has once participated is not permitted in the same event again.

The Collector has to ensure that the selected venue is on a level ground to avoid causing of injury to the participants, bulls and spectators. And the games go on…………………………………..

Did you find this post interesting ? Do send your feedback.

S Sampathkumar

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