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Thursday, July 25, 2024

“No Vibhuti or Kumkum”, owners asked to erase Hindu identities of bulls to participate in Jallikattu

In an attempt to erase its Hindu identity, Jallikattu bull owners were asked not to apply Chandan, Kumkum and turmeric when they bring the bulls for Jallikattu events. The Jallikattu Association condemned this move and protested against it.

Jallikattu events are organised across Tamil Nadu as part of Pongal celebrations. They start on Mattu Pongal(Pongal for cows and bulls) and are held in a grand way throughout the week. The Jallikattu events at Alanganallur, Palamedu and Avaniyapuram in Madurai are very famous for the huge number of bulls and bull tamers participating. After the ban on Jallikattu and the eventual ordinance to allow it, the government started interfering in the organising and arrangement aspects of the sport.

While district collectors and police officials were involved only to maintain law and order and crowd control earlier after the ban, so many rules and regulations have been imposed, giving them leeway to exercise their powers. While it has made the event safe for both animals and men, it has also let the government steer away the control from Jallikattu committees over conducting the sport.

Jallikattu events, in general, are held on temple grounds. Temple bull will be the first bull to be released in any event. Bulls are worshiped as a deity and pujas are performed to them. They are also blessed by a pujari or elders in the family before participating in the event. Kumkum, Chandan, turmeric, and sometimes colors are applied to them. They are also made to wear garlands and get a new veshti(dhoti) on Mattu Pongal day as part of the family.

The grounds where Jallikattu is held sport Tripundra or Urdhvapundra based on which temple’s ground it’s being held. So from rearing and making a Jallikattu bull to participating in a competitive event to organising one, everything is thoroughly Hindu.

Jallikattu vaadivasal
Alanganallur(above) and Avaniyapuram(below) Jallikattu avenues where vaadivasal(small opening through which bulls are let out) painted and decorated with Hindu symbols and flowers
Jallikattu vaadivasal
Venues of Jallikattu events organised by churches in Trichy and Dindigul; inside the boxes: vaadivasal

But nowadays, Christian converts who have either foot in Christian and Hindu principles and cannot give up customs and traditions practiced since time immemorial have started conducting Jallikattu after getting blessings from Christian priests. These events are bereft of any Hindu identity. Which is why the members of Jallikattu Training Centre oppose the direction not to use Kumkum, Chandan, or turmeric.

They staged a protest in Madurai Collectorate and submitted a petition to the district collector seeking to stop officials from erasing the Hindu identities. Their petition said, “We bring the bulls for Jallikattu events after doing pujas and worshiping them at home. We treat them like deities and apply Vibhuti, Chandanam, Kumkum and turmeric before bringing them to the venue.”

“Similarly, we welcome back the bulls with pomp like one would welcome a warrior. A bull with (Hindu) features is like a deity in full regalia. But officials disregard these sentiments and say that the bulls will be allowed only if all such symbols are erased, including the bell tied to their neck, cloth(added as a mark of respect) and symbols on their horns. Erasing their identities is wrong. It should not happen in Jallikattu events. The collector should make sure of that.”

To express their displeasure, Jallikattu bull trainers wore bells tied around bulls’ necks during the protest. It appears that the direction to erase Hindu identities was through word of mouth. It is unclear whether it was the anti-Hindu DMK government, cryptos among officials or woke bureaucrats that gave the direction. But sure enough, most of the bulls that participated in Alanganallur, Palamedu and Avaniyapuram events attended by DMK ministers, including Sports Minister and CM’s son Udayanidhi Stalin, were bereft of any Hindu identity without tilak and garlands.

As its attempts to totally banish Jallikattu through foreign funded NGOs failed, the church seems to have taken what help it could in erasing its Hindu identity. It will succeed in gradually making the sport and, thus, the Hindu tradition extinct if it is allowed to have its way.

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