Jallikattu: Until Tamils themselves want it stopped, let it be

Tamilians are aghast at this insistence to prevent jallikattu, a Pongal-time tradition in the Tamil hinterland where the brave try to run with a bull and tame it.

Jallikattu: Until Tamils themselves want it stopped, let it be

Jallikattu is posing to be this big, bristly moustache without twirling which Tamil culture would be at a grave loss. Like idli without sambar or chutney.



Pride is something the Tamilians have lots of, and since they have it in such glorious un-Cauvery-like abundance, it is the easiest to be wounded. Like when former chief minister J. Jayalalithaa died after recovering well, as announced by daily press releases. She sat up, she smiled, whatnot. But on December 5, she died after a sudden heart attack. How could someone who was recovering well die so suddenly? The loyal Amma fan/party-workers' anger knew no bounds. Their anger is still roaming about unrequited.




Just then comes the Supreme Court insistence on sticking to the 2014 ruling banning Jallikattu. Unlike what is being made out to be the case, not every Tamil will be out chasing the already-crazed bull, which would be petrified at the thought of what this mass of men want from it, a creature that stomps about regurgitating cud and bellows sonorously when bored. Jallikattu is a big deal for the caste groups which form the backbone of the AIADMK like the Thevars and the Gounders.



If jallikattu isn’t held, it is a bad idea for bull calves. They are treated like a useless byproduct. In much of the country before cow and bull slaughter was banned, the male calf was dispatched to the butchers without batting an eyelid. But in southern Tamil Nadu, bulls are reared with great love and affection. Sometimes like a son. So what if they run a jallikattu.




PETA is seen as the villain responsible for the situation to have come to this pass in Tamil Nadu. People, including the thousands thronging Marina beach on Wednesday, want PETA banned. Some believe that the ban on jallikattu has been placed so that beef plants can export more beef.




Some Whatsapp forwards and the Wikipedia entry says Congress leader Kapil Sibal and his wife Promila own an abattoir in Ghaziabad. The reports cited to prove that Kapil Sibal owns an abattoir however link to expired pages or to a profile of Sibal’s which mentions Promila, but not to an abattoir, real or imagined. It must be noted that Sibal as communications minister wanted to put regulatory mechanisms on social media and the internet to prevent such misrepresentation, but he was lampooned for his efforts. Even if Sibal did own an abattoir in UP, how would that lead to a jallikattu ban in yonder Tamil Nadu? Who would bear the cost and the risk of transporting cattle in a country where cow slaughter is banned? It seems pride does make one think illogically.



If jallikattu is banned, male calves won’t stand a chance to stay alive. If jallikattu is allowed, some people may be gored to death, some bulls will surely fall victim to what are generally classed as inhuman practices.



But the same proud Tamilians will not squeak a word when hundreds of Dalit huts are set afire to avenge an elopement across caste lines? Or when daylight murders of Dalit men in busy markets by machete squads don’t elicit even a candle lit vigil. And this in a state ruled by Dravidian parties, said to be awash in modernist humanism.



Until post-Dravidian politics wakes up in Tamil Nadu, let the bulls run and those who enjoy running with them risk being gored. More than a hundred people have died due to demonetisation, there is no word on that. Let the courts not worry about people who may be gored to death. Until Tamils themselves want this stopped, let jallikattu be.