Jallikattu is a bull taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations on Mattu Pongal day. Annually, Jallikattu is held from January to July, played first in Palamedu,near Madurai on January 15 followed by the world-famous “Alanganallur-Jallikattu” in Alanganallur, near Madurai on 16 January. There is a specific breed of cattle bred for this purpose known as Jellicut and from the place of a big breeder Pulikulam.
Jallikattu as well as bull cuddling or holding is a Tamil tradition, which is popular amongst Tamil warriors during classical period. According to legend, in old times women used this game to choose husbands. Successful “matadors” were chosen as grooms. The term Jallikaṭṭu comes from the term Calli Kācu (coins) and kaṭṭu (meaning a package) tied to the horns of the bulls as the prize money. Later days during the colonial period this evolved to Jallikattu which is the term currently used. A seal from the Indus Valley Civilization depicting the sport is preserved in the Delhi museum.
However, There are three versions of Jallikattu such as vaṭi manju viraṭṭu, vēli viraṭṭu and vaṭam manjuviraṭṭu. The first version takes place mostly in the districts of Madurai, Trichy, Pudukkottai, Dindigul, Theni, Thanjavur, and Salem. In this version the bull is released from an enclosure with an opening. As the bull comes out of the enclosure, one person clings to the hump of the bull. The bull in its attempt to shake him off will bolt, but some will hook the guy with their horns and throw him off. The person has to hold on to the running bull for a predetermined distance to win the prize. Only one person is supposed to attempt catching the bull. The second version is more popular in the districts of Sivagangai, and Madurai. The bull is released in an open ground. This version is the most natural as the bulls are not restricted in any way. The bulls once released just run away from the field in any direction that they prefer. In the third version of Jallikattu ,the bull is tied to a 50-feet-long rope (15 m) and is free to move within this space. A team of 7 or 9 members must attempt to subdue the bull within 30 minutes. This version is very safe for spectators as the bull is tied and the spectators are shielded by barricades.
This is one of the oldest traditional sports of India, which no adventure-loving spectator can afford to miss.
Date: January 16th, 2014
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