• As the assembly polls are to be held in Tamil Nadu in 2021, the Pongal festival and Jallikattu, the traditional bull-taming sport, have caught the attention of the Political Parties in the country.


About Jallikattu:

  • Traditional
    • A tradition over 2,000 years old, Jallikattu is a competitive sport as well as an event to honour bull owners who rear them for mating.
    • It is a violent sport in which contestants try to tame a bull for a prize; if they fail, the bull owner wins the prize.
  • Areas of Sport:
    • It is popular in Madurai, Tiruchirappalli, Theni, Pudukkottai and Dindigul districts of Tamil Nadu known as the Jallikattu belt.
  • Time of Event:
    • It is celebrated in the second week of January, during the Tamil harvest festival, Pongal.
  • Importance in Tamil Culture:
    • Jallikattu is considered a traditional way for the peasant community to preserve their pure-breed native bulls.
      • At a time when cattle breeding is often an artificial process, conservationists and peasants argue that Jallikattu is a way to protect these male animals which are otherwise used only for meat if not for ploughing.

Legal Interventions on Jallikattu:

  • In 2011, the Centre added bulls to the list of animals whose training and exhibition is prohibited.
  • In 2014, the Supreme Court banned the bull-taming sport, ruling on a petition that cited the 2011 notification.

Current Legal Position on Jallikattu:

  • The state government has legalised these events, which has been challenged in the court.
  • In 2018, the Supreme Court referred the Jallikattu case to a Constitution Bench, where it is pending now.

Conflict to be Resolved:

  • Whether the Jallikattu tradition can be protected as a cultural right of the people of Tamil Nadu which is a fundamental right.
    • Article 29 (1) against Rights of animals.
    • Article 29 (1) mandates that “any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same”.

Position in Other States for Similar Sports:

  • Karnataka too passed a law to save a similar sport, called Kambala.

Except in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, where bull-taming and racing continue to be organised, these sports remain banned in all other states including Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Maharashtra due to the 2014 ban order from the Supreme Court.

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