Jallikattu: Why Tamilian Bullfighting Is More Important Now Than Ever

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2019-05-01

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Dsouza, Jana

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This thesis aims to explore the yearly traditional Tamilian bullfight known as Jallikattu and the controversy surrounding its banning by the Supreme Court of India in 2017. This tournament is held during Pongal, the Hindu harvest festival that celebrates the tools of agriculture as well as agrarian life in Tamilnadu. Jallikattu is celebrated on the third day of Pongal, the day for giving thanks for the cows and bulls used in every- day agricultural life to provide milk, transportation, and manual labor to plow the fields. In the past, the goal of Jallikattu was to wrestle the bull to the ground by having several men jump onto and overpower the ani- mal. However, the rules have changed since the ban and resulting pro- tests in 2017. The Supreme Court of India and PETA India have battled with the state government for over ten years about the legality of Jalli- kattu. At the end of 2016, the Supreme Court instated a permanent ban and did not rescind their decision. This proved enormous protests that spanned across lines of gender, caste, age, and religion. A combination of Tamilian spirit and a turn away from Western influence created the socio-political atmosphere that led Tamil people around the world to protest the ban until the Supreme Court made provisions for the event.

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