The mood is not bullish, to use a stock market phrase, in Tamil Nadu where the bull-taming "sport" or jallikattu, is unlikely to be held, for the third year in a row. A last-ditch effort is being mounted by the DMK, demanding the Modi government to undo a Supreme Court ban on holding the event, with an ordinance.
It was in May 2014 that the Supreme Court struck down a legislation by the Tamil Nadu government in July 2009 on how to organise the "sport" (Regulation of Jaillikattu Act).
Pitted against the supporters of the jallikattu were PETA India and government body the Aniwal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), the two organisations that had sought a ban on the annual event held mostly in southern Tamil Nadu.
The last time when the bull-taming "sport" was held — January 2014 — about 100 people were injured, while in the previous year, one person was killed and about 60 injured, including spectators, in the state.
The animal is subject to treatment that does little to the sentiments and pride associated with Pongal, essentially a thanks-giving festival by farmers to the Sun god for a good harvest.
The video attached in the beginning of this story will show how the participants try to tame the bull by holding its horns and sometimes pulling its tail, driving the frightened animal to run amok. In the process, it ends up attacking spectators, who are equally responsible for the pain inflicted on the animal.
In 2013, the bull-taming (jallikattu) event, attended by the then collector of Madurai district C Kamraj, sparked a law and order problem when some people from the crowd pelted stones on policemen for being denied entry at Alanganallur that attracts huge spectators. The district administration, fearing that the situation could spiral out of control, halted the event towards the latter part.
But deaths and injuries pale before regional chauvinism and so-called pride and so the clamour for an ordinance to undo the Supreme Court order banning the "sport." The questions that arise are: should the Centre give in to the demand? Should so-called sentiments, tradition, culture prevail over cruelty to animals? Does chivalry lie in inflicting cruelty on those helpless bulls, reminiscent of medieval ages?
Before your pen your views, please read the observations of the Supreme Court bench comprising Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Pinaki Chandra Misra. "Forcing a bull and keeping it in the waiting area for hours and subjecting it to the scorching sun is not for the animal's well-being. Forcing and pulling the bull by a nose rope into the narrow, closed enclosure or 'vadi vassal' (entry point), subjecting it to all forms of torture, fear, pain and suffering by forcing it to go the arena and also over-powering it in the arena by bull tamers, are not for the well-being of the animal."
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