Jallikattu: Meaning, history and its significance in India

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History and meaning of Jallikattu - a bull taming festival in India
History and meaning of Jallikattu - a bull taming festival in India

Chennai : On May 7, 2014, Supreme Court ruled ban on Jallikattu – traditional bull taming festival – in Tamil Nadu over 10-year-long fight by Federation of India Animal Protection Agencies (FIAPO) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

In 2016, Tamil Nadu started a revolt against the decision, mostly peaceful but powerful, following which Centre and State government were left with no option than to reverse the Supreme Court order and lift ban from the sport.

With such an outrage, you must have heard a lot about Jallikattu but we must also know about its real meaning, history and also significance. (Also Read: In India, tradition rules over life of people)

Jallikattu meaning

Jallikattu is a combination of two words - Jalli also known as ‘salli’ or ‘kasu’, which translates into coins, and Kattu which means bundle or pouch. So a yellow pouch of coins is tied to the horns of a bull. The sport is also called as Eruthazhuvuthal, which means ‘hugging the bull’.

Jallikattu history

Jallikattu comes way back from 400-100 BC, when ancient people Aayars who lived in the ‘Mullai’ geographical division of the ancient Tamil country used to practice this. Later, the sport got declaration of bravery and prize money was introduced for participation encouragement. A cave painting in white kaolin discovered near Madurai depicting a lone man trying to control a bull is estimated to be about 2,500 years old.

All you should know about Jallikattu sports

In 'Jallikattu', played during third day of Pongal, a bull is set free in the defined arena and participants try to tame the bull with bare hands. The participants try to do this by holding the bull by its tail or horns. The bulls are specially prepared for this event by various farmers. Special training is given to both bulls and contestants for the event.