Jallikattu Vs Animal Rights

The most popular debate raging in the media and across various fora has been very engaging as well as confusing. The debate over the practice of Jallikattu on one hand versus the abuse of Animal Rights on the other.

We have had the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and the PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) raising objections to the way bulls were harassed/abused during Jallikattu. The PETA, AWBI and other animal rights groups have therefore been insistent that the ban on Jallikattu needs to be in place.

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image courtesy: iyadav.com

The Votaries of Jallikattu (VoJ) have accepted that there could be some merit in the claims of abuse of animals. There could be instances of cruelty in places. Man is capable of nobility and the other extreme as well. This they have acknowledged and are willing to let the sport be governed and monitored.  They  also question the locus standi of PETA in the matter. They believe that either the PETA may not feel enough about the culture of the region (at best) or may be colluding with vested interests (at worst) to ensure that Indian breeds giving healthier A2 milk are slowly wiped out. In this series of articles,  we wish to understand the following:


  1. The History of the Sport and its relevance then.
  2. The View of the VoJ and its possible relevance now.
  3. The allegations against PETA /AWBI
  4. Healthy Native (Indian) A2 milk of local breeds Vs ‘Poisonous’ A1 milk from foreign cows
  5. The lesson Lantana teaches us on mindless ‘insemination’ of foreign flora & fauna

The History of Jallikattu.

Jallikattu has a long tradition in the Indian sub-continent. The seals from the Indus Valley Civilization prove that Jallikattu could possibly have been one of mankind’s initial ‘sports activities’. The idea behind this game in a pastoral society would have been to understand which of the able bodied men was bold or strong enough to hang on to a bull’s hump.

What better way for a suitor to convince a girl’s father than that he would ready to face all challenges for a life with her. Also practically speaking, he needed to be able to manage livestock. Imagine the primary occupation of the people in an agrarian set-up.  The sport also gave an opportunity to find out the stronger of the bulls for potential mating rights with the farmers’ cows.

As Iravatham Mahadevan has demonstrated increasingly convincingly, the Indus Valley language bears a strong similarity to modern day Tamil. Therefore there should be no doubt about the antiquity of the tradition as seen in Tamil Nadu.

(to be continued…..)

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