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Jallikattu: The Tradition of Bull-taming Sports

First published: January 12, 2017, 1:22 PM IST | Updated: 6 mins ago

File photo of Jallikattu. Photo: Reuters

Jallikattu has been the news lately with the Supreme Court on Thursday rejecting a petition to allow the bull-taming sport to take place on Pongal. Here is everything you need to know about the sport.

– Jallikattu has been around for over 2000 years. The event was recorded in ancient literature as ‘yeru thaluvudal’ (hugging the bull). Initially, it was a ceremony to select a bridegroom – the successful tamer would get to marry the maiden.

The Game
– The sport involves a natively reared stud that is set free inside an arena filled with young participants. The challenge lies in taming the bull with bare hands.

– Ideally, participants try to grab the bull by its horns or tail and wrestle it into submission.

– The name Jallikattu is derived from the word ‘salli’ or ‘kasu’ meaning coins and ‘kattu’ meaning bundle/pouch. The pouch, made of yellow cloth, filled with coins, is tied to the bull’s horns. The tamer gets the pouch.

Why During Pongal
– On 3rd day of the four-day-harvest festival, people offer prayers to bulls, cows and other farm animals and then play the customary bull-taming sport. They believe that not playing the sport will displease local deities, including lord Muniswara.

– The biggest Jallikattu, at Alanganallur, has the tourism department’s patronage. The event also takes place in Avaniapuram and Palamedu of Madurai district and in some villages in surrounding districts like Pudukottai, Tiruchirapalli and Thanjavur.