Jallikattu: Taming the Bulls in India
In the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, people donít need red capes and sharp swords to tame bulls they do it with their bare hands, in a sport called Jallikkattu.
The ancient sport of Jallikattu pits crowds of brave young men against angry bulls who will tear anyone apart, if they get in the way. Jallikatu, in Tamil language, means 'Bull Taming' or ĎBull Fightí. Jallikatu is derived from two different words Ďsallií and Ďkatu.í In Tamil Salli means coin (may be gold coin) and katu means tying the coin either in the neck strap or around the horns of the raging bull. Youths will attempt to grab the money and the bull will counter them and even injure them. Finally the tamer gets the coin. Some compare jallikatu to Spain's bullfights.
But thatís is a lot harder than it sounds, especially since the bulls used for Jallikattu are extremely aggressive, and the players arenít allowed to defend themselves with anything else but their bare hands. The bravest of the young men will try to grab the hump of the bull, and hang on, while the beast will most often grab him with its long horns and plunge him into the ground.
Tens of thousands of participants and onlookers gather whenever a Jallikattu game is scheduled, and most of the times hundreds of them end up in the hospital, with serious injuries, and some of them lose their lives. A centuries old tradition, in the Tamil Nadu region, Jallikattu was banned in 2008, following accusations that the bulls are fed alcohol and chili is sprayed in their face, to make them more aggressive. The ban was later removed, but the animals are now checked by a team of veterinarians, before Jallikattu.
As might be expected, injuries and even deaths occur in Jallikattu. In 2004, at least 5 people were reported dead and several hundreds injured in various villages. Two hundred have died over the past two decades. Unlike in spanish bullfighting, the bull is not killed. There are rarely any casualties suffered by the bulls. Several animal activists object to this dangerous game every year, but so far these objections have been in vain.