On January 16th, several Chennai-ites gathered on Marina Beach. Their motive- uphold the Tamil culture- to ‘unban’ the Jallikattu, a sport that they held in highest reverence.
Now even as Tamil Nadu assembly gears up to pass the ordinance on January 23 and make it a legal sport, the question is what is this game? What is it so important for Tamil culture?
Jallikattu/Sallikattu/Eru thazuvuthal/Manju virattu may have begun around 400-100 BC. It was practised by Aayar Community living in the Mullai district of ancient Tamil Nadu
A bull from the Kangayam Breed would be set free among a crowd and the participant would have to remove the flag on its horn or hold it for the longest duration. Soon this sport was associated with bravery.
A seal from Indus Valley Civilisation and a painting in the caves of Madurai show that this sport is indeed old.
- The bull will be released into the arena through an entry gate
- The contestant should only hold the bull by its hump
- The participant must embrace the bull for 30 seconds or 15 feet, whichever is longer when the bull runs.
- If the bull throws the contestant off before the line then the bull will be declared victorious.
- if no-one manages to hold on to the bull, then the bull will be declared victorious
- If the contestant manages to hold on to the hump till the bull crosses the finish line, then the participant is declared the winner
- Only one contestant should hold on to the bull at one time
- No contestant should injure the bull in any manner