The spontaneous Jallikattu uprising in Tamil Nadu is in fact the result of four years of sustained hard work by a group of men who used modern communication tools to garner support for the protest.
It all began with a modest protest on Marina beach with 15 participants in 2013 that has now become a mass movement in Tamil Nadu. These warriors roped in youths, cutting across caste, class and region barriers, and encourage them to join the mass agitation.
Himakiran Alagula is a professional from Chennai with rural roots and is an owner of a bull. In 2013, he got interested in Jallikattu and got in touch with Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Federation president P Rajasekharan, who has been fighting for the sport for over 10 years.
Alagula also teamed up with Karthikeya Sivasenapathy, who heads the Senaapathy Kangayam Cattle Research Foundation near Tirupur. Slowly others began to join the fight.
Another professional and businessman from Coimbatore, Balakumar Somu, too, joined the team that prepared the blueprint for the battle.
“We organised seminars, workshops, cattle fairs, meetings, and distributed pamphlets and reading material among college and school students, educating them about the native breeds, agricultural practices. And when they realized the true reason for holding Jallikattu, more support started pouring in,” said Alagula.
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Over the years, support for the three organisations — Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Federation, Senaapathy Kangayam Cattle Research Foundation and Biodiversity Conservation Council of India (formed by professionals in India and abroad) — grew and what you see on the Marina beach or in different parts of the state is a result of a sustained effort since 2013, Alagula said.
“It is the failure of the central government to facilitate the native sport and the abusive campaign carried out by PETA against the Tamils that exploded into an outburst of emotional protest,” said Alagula.
“We created awareness through Twitter and Facebook, seminars in colleges and lectures at institutions. The real spark that ignited the anger of the people was the abusive negative campaign by PETA and central government’s indifference,” said another Jallikattu warrior.
WhatsApp, too, came handy for the campaigners.
Read | Centre’s 2016 notification on Jallikattu balances sport, animal care: Javadekar
It was a television programme in January last year that the warriors dominated. It was followed by Hiphop Tamizha, who did a Tamil video song that went viral. It garnered more support from within India and abroad.
Sri Ganesh, the Chennai-coordinator for the Chennai Memes, one of the sites that was extensively used by Jallikattu warriors to spread their message said, “Jallikattu is our cultural heritage. It’s not just one generation at Marina beach, but Tamils from all ages and backgrounds.