Jallikattu, the bull taming sport of Tamil Nadu is typically practised as a part of Pongal celebrations and has been in existence for over 2,000 years. In 2014, the Supreme Court banned Jallikattu on grounds of animal cruelty, but those in support of the sport view it as part of the state’s culture and tradition. After the court rejected a plea on January 12 to pass its verdict on Jallikattu before the Pongal festival, for the third year in a row, Tamil Nadu witnessed widespread protests dampening the festive spirit in the state. More than 4,000 protesters, mostly students, converged Marina beach demanding for the removal of ban on Jallikattu. They are also seeking a ban on the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which has antagonised the people for having anti-Jallikaatu stand. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday and urged him to promulgate an ordinance to lift the ban.
Amidst a huge hue and cry against a ban on the sport, celebrities from Kollywood have extended their support to preserve the state’s tradition. Here’s what some of them said:
Superstar Rajinikanth said the bull-taming sport should be held in tune with Tamil culture. Rajinikanth asked, “Rules can be framed to regulate the sport to prevent injuries, but instead of that (framing rules), is it right to negate a culture?” Stating that the sport was the cultural heritage of Tamil people, he said it “should be protected”. “Jallikattu should be held to uphold the traditions of our Tamil culture,” he said.
2) Kamal Hassan:
Kamal Haasan has strongly come out in support of the sport. “If you want a ban on Jallikattu, let’s also ban biryani. I’m a big fan of Jallikattu. I’m probably one of few actors who’ve played Jallikattu. Am a proud Tamilian, this is our culture.” Haasan was vocal about restarting the ‘tradition’ and said it shouldn’t be confused with bull-fighting. He claimed that in Tamil Nadu, bulls are treated like ‘God’. He said: “It is about taming the bull and not creating physical harm by breaking its horns or other part.”
3) Suriya Sivakumar
Suriya hit out at the animal rights organisation PETA and said that the organisation may have won in their legal proceedings against Jallikattu, ‘but lost the case in the people’s court’. “It is paradoxical to see those aiding extinction of native breeds talk about cruelty to bulls,” Suriya said. “Protests by young volunteers is reflective of the common mood of the people of Tamil Nadu. These protests will bear fruit and Jallikattu will happen soon in Tamil Nadu,” he said, adding, the people of the state should resist any move that would endanger “our heritage and identity.” “Words such as heritage, identity and history are generally being used by scholars but are now the buzzwords among youth due to Jallikattu issue. Thanks to all those who secured a ban on Jallikattu and prompted the youth to fight for a common cause,” he added.
After she was targeted by pro-Jallikattu groups for her association with animal rights group PETA which opposes the sport, Trisha said on Saturday she had never spoken against the bull taming sport. Abusive text messages accompanied with images of Trisha wearing a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) T-shirt have gone viral on social media. The actress asked on Saturday if such an attitude was in line with Tamil culture. “Disrespecting a woman and her family is Tamil culture? (sic) You should be ashamed to call urself a Tamilian or even speak about Tamil culture,” the actress said in another tweet. “Secondly, I have never spoken against Jallikattu at any given point. Thank u @iam_str for making my stand clear and talking up for me as always (sic),” she tweeted.
5) AR Rahman
The 50-year-old musician took to his Twitter handle to inform that he will be fasting on January 20, to support the spirit of Tamil Nadu. “I’m fasting tomorrow to support the spirit of Tamilnadu!” he tweeted.
A day after Pongal, actor Vijay came out with a one-minute video in which he expressed his support for those students protesting against the Jallikattu ban. Vijay said in his video, “Law was not created to rob people of their tradition and rights but to protect it. “Jallikattu is every Tamilian’s identity. Those who are protesting against the ban are united by the feeling that they are Tamilians, not out of compulsion or political power. I bow down to each and every one of them.” Vijay, in a video message, welcomed the protests by youth volunteers, saying they were agitating “without any political differences.” He also attacked PETA, saying “Tamil Nadu will rejoice if it is sent back,” apparently calling for a ban against the NGO.
Certain photographs of Dhanush wearing a PETA T-shirt had been doing the rounds on social media but his fans claimed that these were photoshopped. The actor has since clarified his stance on Jallikattu and has been tweeting his support for the sport, stating that this was about Tamil culture. “#Jallikattu is an integral element of the voice and identity of Tamilians. #ISupportJallikattu #WeNeedJallikattu #TamilCulture,” he posted on Twitter.
According to Bollywoodlife.com, Ajith Kumar will also observe fast along with the Nadigar Members to show his support for this sport.
Actor Simbu was one of the first celebrities to voice his support for the pro-Jallikattu movement. “Jallikattu is the cultural symbol of our state and it is our pride too. We have been practising this art of valour for years, and it is utterly disgraceful when some groups and individuals manage to misguide and misinform the authorities of the governance and judiciary on this art that is considered as a cultural symbol of our state,” he had said.
Nayanthara issued a press release, which read, “The power of youth is proven again. What Tamil Nadu has been witnessing for the past few days in support of Jallikattu is an unprecedented history. It indeed makes me proud to be part of this state. As the youngsters fight out the various law enforcing agencies in the most passive manner I support the cause of the people of Tamil Nadu who support Jallikattu… If not by birth, atleast by the force of emotion and pride i am a Tamilian.This state has been giving me the stature and pride and at this time of emotional juncture I stand one among them to raise my voice against the foreign bodies, and also against the law enforcing agencies which were misinformed about the whole concept of Jallikattu… I wish these efforts bring back “Jallikattu” the cultural identity of Tamil Nadu without any further hindrance. Let the slogan “we want Jallikattu” be heard all through the country.” (sic)