Why Tamils fight for Jallikattu

The next time you take your dog for a walk and he goes bounding up to the neighbourhood aunty don’t yank him by his chain, you cruel moron. You’ll choke him, you’ll hurt him. Reason it out with him. The aunty shouldn’t mind a tiny bite.

My mother likes to create a platter everyday for the crows and pigeons that visit our terrace. She keeps aside a portion of the day’s tiffen – idli or dosai or upma, the malai from the day’s milk and few biscuits and sets them up in a plate on the terrace.

“Stop feeding them your upma. I am not answering PETA if those crows and pigeons suffer from an upset stomach. You are morally responsible.”

As I write this, thousands of my fellow tamils are sitting in Chennai’s Marina beach, Alanganallur, Coimbatore, Salem, all over TamilNadu and across several countries, unrelenting in their demand to revive Jallikattu while national media and newspapers reluctantly turn their gaze on the third day to protests they distantly refer to as “an ancient bull-taming sport”. They conduct panel discussions usually comprising of a couple of socialite women who’ve never walked their dog and have therefore not had to hurt them, a lone passionate Tamil person who they cut short every time he is about to make a point and an advocate or historian to spew facts/laws. The non-Tamil news anchor doesn’t understand why the entire state is up in arms favouring this cruel sport. The rest of the panellists beat up the lone passionate Tamil person from what they perceive as their moral high ground.  

This in essence is what the protestors are fighting. It is the fact that people who are far-removed from the state and the sport, who are uncomfortable with the sport, can do away with the sport that was being held for hundreds of years. Just like that. And call tamils “emotional”. If this isn’t fascism I don’t know what is. To decree that everyone should be like them is the most violent form of fascism. I am against any group that calls itself an advocacy group (including PETA). I don’t want anyone advocating anything to me.

It’s easy to eliminate an un-organized sport, a farmer’s sport that happens only in villages with no sponsors, teams and bids. “Play cricket, hockey or chess like the rest of us.”

One particular animal activist comments on how they’re trying to make Indians more compassionate, on how they’re trying to change archaic practices. Their arrogance is mind-blogging. I’d like to ask these animal activists to feed a group of organically grown-up chickens compassionately without picking up a stick, reign in a Rottweiler compassionately or get these tame, docile bulls to plough a piece of land compassionately.

The outrage of the tamil people is also the culmination of the powerlessness of the state and the apathy of the SC and the central government in the Cauvery dispute. “Law of the land” is a joke when supreme court’s order to release water is openly defied, and the supreme court looks on doing nothing while our farmers die.   

Instead of instituting rules and regulations to curtail malpractices, the court bans it outright. PETA has not been able to ban rodeo (the sport that really is cruel to animals) in any of the western countries. But in India, it’s easy to ban Jallikattu. If injury/loss of human life are grounds for banning a sport, wouldn’t formula one racing or boxing have been banned years ago?

I don’t like beef. Let’s ban beef.

I think the bull looks scared. Let’s ban jallikattu.

I don’t agree with your take on Hinduism. Ban the book (The Hindus: An alternative history).

I am a righteous bastard. Alcohol is morally not right. Ban alcohol.

The Jallikattu ban is one more step in consolidating the hegemonies of the rich and powerful (Read about the sad Indian cow story), in systematically eliminating customs, livelihoods and cultures. These protests are not just about Jallikattu. Anyone who says that is naïve or are one of the national media. These protests are against the arrogance of the powers that seek to homogenize the Tamils to live, behave and play like everyone else.

The day is not far when advocacy groups and powerful lobbies will have our judges banning art, movies, books, websites and eggs. The day they touch eggs is the day I’ll go to war.

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  1. Uma says:

    Breast chains are more popular now so as to not choke dogs and grains are fed to birds instead of upma. Spanking children is also discouraged but was a norm earlier.. Regressive ideas definitely need to be discouraged or else sati too was a custom once upon a time

    • foodbetterbegood says:

      Thank you Uma for sharing your thoughts. But I have to say Sati is a really bad analogy which just helps people dramatize and exaggerate. I hope people also ask their cats and dogs before neutering them. Deciding that the dog/cat need not fuck, is overbearing, eliminating one of its fundamental instincts is cruel. Because it is widely practiced, because animal welfare organizations endorse it, and because it is convenient for people to possess such animals,are these practices humane? A custom that is old, practiced in a village and unfamiliar to the vast majority doesn’t automatically make it regressive.

  2. rachana says:

    Dear Uma, please enlighten me as to how common Sati was in India? I dont think practices like Sati, Thugees etc (which is usually the 2nd and third favourite after casteism ) used to “villify” hinduism were commonplace. Ofcourse please correct me if i am wrong about Sati
    but only with facts and figures.

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