Jallikattu – Sport Of Taming An Angry Bull
Jallikattu is an ancient traditional sport in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. Also known as Eruthazhuvuthal or Manju Virattu, it is a bull taming (much like breaking a stallion) game as a part of Pongal (harvest celebration in Tamil Nadu) celebrations, usually on the day of Mattu Pongal.
Though it looks quite similar to the bull fight, the difference is that in Jallikattu the bull is not killed and the matador(s) (bull fighters) cannot use any weapon. Jallikattu is more popular in the villages of Tamil Nadu as part of village Pongal celebrations.
In ancient days this festival gained popularity in the Tamil classical period amongst the warriors. The legend says, those days the game was used by women to choose their husbands. Successful “bull fighters” were chosen as groom.
Jallikattu Tourism, Madurai
Jallikattu is one of the least known sports in India. The fierce nature of the sport has now grasped many tourists’ attention. To witness this dangerous sport you have to go to the city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu. Make sure you speak with the tourism department of Madurai so that they can help you organize the visit. They will take you to the respective village that’s hosting the event. Jallikattu takes places in January, so its best for you to do that.
Every year Jallikattu has been held first in a village name Palamedu located near Madurai on January 15th and followed by the world-famous “Alanganallur-Jallikattu” in Alanganallu another village near Madurai on 16 January. The special breed of cattle bred for this festival are called Jellicut and Pulikulam. Being naturally aggressive in nature training them is much easier.
Training Bulls For Jallikattu
The bulls for Jallikattu are chosen when they are calves and given nutritious diets to become a strong and sturdy beast. Special training is given to bulls that play vadam manju virattu. Swimming is an exercise for the bulls and to become familiar with the atmosphere the calves, once they reach adolescence are taken to small Jallikattu events.
Vadi Manju Virattu
The bull, as it comes out of the enclosure, one person holds on to the hump of the bull. The bull shakes to make him fall and some will hook the guy with their horns and throw him off. To win the prize the person has to hold on to the running bull a certain distance which is pre-decided.
The bull is let out in an open ground free to go in any direction (no rope or defined path). Some bulls don’t even go close to anyone; some others don’t run but stand in the ground and attack anyone who tries to come near them. Usually this happens on village streets while non-participants are safe behind closed doors of their homes. The “play/fight” can go from a few minutes to a couple of hours.
“Vadam” means rope in Tamil. Here the bull is tied to a 15 meter long rope and is free to move within this space. This type is quite safe for spectators as the bull is tied and the spectators are shielded by barricades. A team of 7 or 9 members have to subdue the bull within 30 minutes.