The Jallikattu Story-Of unending traditions and animal welfare

The Jallikattu Story is an interesting reading material for all those interested in India’s hoary traditions. This one has more than 2, 500 years of history behind it.Read it to understand how a lovely tradition changed for the worse.

What is the Jallikattu Story?

Jallikattu refers to the age old practice of embracing the bulls by people of Tamil Nadu. This practice is a sight to watch during Pongal.

Can I see how this Jallikattu thing is played out?

Sure, watch the video.

What is Pongal?

The Pongal season marks the arrival of the fresh crop in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

But, heck, what is the connection between Jallikattu and Pongal?

Since ancient times, Indians have used oxen and bulls for farming purposes. Jallikattu provides the reason for the farmers to thank their animals.

Jallikattu Story
The bulls are thanked on Pongal

But, why is the Jallikattu Story creating such a ruckus?

You see, over a period of time, people started using their bulls in a wrong way. Rather than thanking them , the farmers started using the occasion as a spectator sport.

So, what is wrong in that?

Good question. What went wrong in the Jallikattu Story was that animals began to be teased, agitated and beaten in such fairs. The bulls and oxen were fed with great food and on Pongal, were used by the villagers as toys. The animals were caged in closed places and teased so much that they had to escape from the hordes of people.

Jallikattu Story
Over the years, the lovely tradition of Jallikattu has changed to one of animal bashing.

Sometimes, the bulls escape to busy  roads and other inhabited places and this scares the drivers of the vehicles.

Did the animals die in this Jallikattu Story?

An emphatic no. There is  no record of any animal dying because of this practice. However, according to PETA, more than 1, 000 people have been injured because of trampling by the animals.

Got it. So, how do you prevent this cruelty to the animals?

The Supreme Court of India has ordered a ban on this inhuman practice. Not surprisingly, the people of Tamil Nadu have opposed this ban.

They say that the Jallikattu tradition has been in vogue for more than 2,500 years. It also helps the state get tourists and also helps in breeding superior quality of milch cattle.

Really?2,500 years?You must be joking!

No way. Here is an image of an ancient sculpture of Jallikattu.

Jallikattu Story
This image which is more than 2,500 years old shows the practice of Jallikattu

But, so many people kill animals for food. Is that not cruelty?

It is, definitely. I have seen so many birds and animals dying a slow and painful death in the name of religion! And here, PETA, one of the petitioners has failed to establish that Jallikattu leads to animal deaths!

So, when is Pongal?

Tomorrow, i.e. January 14th, Saturday!

Holy Moly, isn’t it also Makar Sankranti day?

Yes, indeed. In North India, Makar Sankranti means flying kites, but the underlying reason is the same- new harvest!


  1. Though i know about this tradition but the second and may be the dark side of this tradition is now open in front of me. Harming the animal just in the sake of tradition should be banned completely.
    I think awareness is the most important for this purpose and your article do it fairly..
    Gud one.. 🙂

  2. That was very interesting to know. I have a thing for bulls, when i see one even on pictures i feel scared. On the contrary it makes me feel bad to see animals dying. And yes i agree, its cruelty! I just can’t seem to understand why are there religions who makes animal suffer… its just sad.. So, maybe you’d opt to joining the kite festival tomorrow?

  3. As usual, the truth is in the grey areas, its neither white, nor black! Continuing with cruelty doesn’t make sense, and so is banning it completely. If the tradition can be continued with awareness and certain precautions, that would make more sense IMHO!

  4. I have never heard about this practice ’til today. I have to say I was watching the video completely confused of what’s happening. It’s like a bull running from one place to another and people trying to hug the bull but have no choice but to also let go. There are so many traditions from another place that we may not understand why people are doing but being a tradition itself, it’s something that is very difficult to take away. I hope for everyone’s safety on the 14th.

  5. It’s so sad that an event with such a historical significance has been turned into a tourist spectacle. I am so sad for the bulls, but watching the video is sort of fascinating, just because I was afraid people would be hurt. It is quite intense! It ain’t wise to taunt the animals like that.

    I’m surprised that the tradition has been on for 2,500 years now. That’s very impressive that it’s still being observed to this day.

  6. What was an awesome festival should have remained that way. The way it is done now, no more looks like the animal is being thanked. It certainly looks under so much stress. That way even MakarSankranti ends up being cruel these days with so many birds accidentally killed by the glass coated thread.

    Thanks for sharing the detailed insight.

  7. I have read about this tradition before though I’m not very familiar with it. I am against animal cruelty of any kind, and I am saddened to read about how the bulls are being taunted for sport. It’s not fair. 🙁 It’s not even worth preserving any kind of tradition, no matter how important it is to one’s culture, if it harms animals in any way. 🙁

  8. Though it has been a tradition, I still believe that it should be banned. It isnt entertainment anymore when there are animals being harmed. I hope the law of India regarding this be strictly imposed and honored.

  9. It is always good to get to know different cultures ans customs. I know little about India and its tradition, but I know that there is a huge history behind,and like us here in Greece you are famous for this history!

  10. Every country has its own culture, traditions, and festivals. We should respect that. There’s a story behind each festival and why it’s being held. We couldn’t change that.

  11. This was really interesting to read but I also found it incredibly agitating.

    Just because it’s a tradition doesn’t make it ‘right’. Numerous ancient traditions have been removed (foot binding, pederasty, cockfighting, tibetan sky burials) and some have been simply modernised to maintain the custom in such a way that is not harmful or unethical. In Japan geishas are no longer bought as children but rather the tradition is maintained through free will.

    In my opinion, we should modernise the tradition to acknowledge its influence on the Indian culture but also, to ensure that no cruelty is involved to the animals. What do you think?

  12. Traditions become twisted when people don’t value the meaning of it anymore. It happens everywhere too, and Pongal is just one example of this global cruelty to animals. This is frustrating. Those poor bulls. When people get hurt, they get blamed solely. It’s not like animals know what they’re doing. It’s basic survival instinct.

  13. This story makes me sad. I know theres a lot of animals suffering in the world. Especially with traditions. But I hope PETA can reach more people and stop all the pain ❤

  14. I really find it sad when animals die for humans’ entertainment. I don’t like that as well as bull fighting in Spain. Why can’t they just leave those poor animals alone? I wish them all the best.

  15. this is interesting. i like reading these kinds of posts especially that it tells a story or the history of the topic. however, it looks really dangerous. yeah. teasing of animals is really wrong. i find the video very saddening to see.

  16. I watched the video! This traditions looks really dangerous! And I feel really bad for the bull as well. It must have felt terrified. @@ Instead of feeling thanked, the bulls might have felt that they are being abused.

  17. I stared at the image closely but I don’t seem to see if they really practiced Jallikattu the same way it is practiced now. Anyway, I also watched the video and I think it’s similar to what they do in Spain. But I don’t think the Indians will do anything to hurt the bulls since, from what I know, they treat animals as gods. Maybe that’s one of the reasons, a lot get trampled on.

  18. Am I correct, the goal is to embrace the bull and not really to harm them? If that’s the case I don’t see anything wrong with the tradition, in fact it keeps the Indian culture alive and interesting. The people who participate in this event are all adults anyway who consented to the possible injuries they may sustain during the festivities, it’s their choice therefore the festival cannot be blamed. 😀

  19. OMG, I hate seeing animals being abused for people’s entertainment. If they now die or not, can you imagine what that feels like for that poor animal being chased by all these people, the noise , what a stress for that poor bull that has probably never done any harm to anybody in his life. Yes, here in Spain where I live, there is such brutality still going on with their traditional bull fights. I have only once attended such a spectacle, not knowing what it would be like. I was so upset and shocked, how scared these poor bulls are , they shit themselves of panic , they scream , they run for their lifes ….how awful …. thank god , people even here in Spain have created attention and animal protectors have achieved a ban in many places already. Thanks for creating attention in publishing your post. Me as an animal lover and fighter for their rights will share the h#ll out of it !

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