Jallikattu – the Traditional Sport of Tamilians


Jallikattu – the Traditional Sport of Tamilians

Jallikattu is a bull taming sport practiced for years in Tamil Nadu. The sport is also known as Eruthazhuvuthal or Manju virattu. It is also conducted in several parts of other states in different names. The Jallikattu is actually practiced as a Tamil tradition during the celebration of Pongal. The event is conducted on the second day of Pongal – the Maatu Pongal day.

Alanganallur is the epicenter for Jallikattu sport. Other notable places where this event is conducted are Palamedu, Avaniapuram, Siravayal, Kanduppatti, Venthanpatti, and Tiruvapur. Most of the Jallikattu events are famous among the villages in the districts of Madurai, Sivagangai, Pudukkottai, Theni, Tiruchirappalli, and Tanjore. There are different versions of Jallikattu such as Vadi Manju Virattu, Vaeli Virattu, and Vadam Manjuvirattu.

Unlike the modern connotation, Jallikattu is not bull-fighting. It is bull-hugging or bull-holding festival. ‘Jalli’ means coins and ‘kattu’ means bundle. A bag of coins are tied to the bull’s horns and the player who dares to get it wins the sport. Local heroes hug the bull bumps and try to tame them. The time a player holds the ferocious bull is considered a heroic act by the youngsters.

It is important to understand the concept behind Jallikattu or Manju Virattu. The sport is based on fight or flight. Unlike any other cattle, the Indian Gaur bulls are exceptional in standing up against predators. There are various breeds of bull with distinct characters such as Aurochs and Kangeyam breeds are of pugnacious nature.

In Jallikattu, the bulls are not harmed or killed by any means. But instead, they are well-fed with nutritious diet and carefully tamed for the event. Usually, the event marks the taming of bulls. The tamed weak bulls are used for agricultural purposes, while the untamable strong bulls are used for breeding. This is how this Jallikattu tradition in Indian villages preserved the ecosystem.

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