Jallikattu will be celebrated on 15th January 2022 in Alanganallur, Tamil Nadu. Detailed instructions are provided to the organizers for barricades and seperate gallaries for spectators in order to follow necessary precautions amid Covid-19 crisis. Jallikattu is celebrated to worship cattle stock and is celebrated during Pongal. The tradition is derived from “Salli” which means coins and “Kattu” which means package. This package of coins are attached to the horns of the bulls that participants try and retrieve.

A major part of the culture of South India can be summed up by the Jallikattu festival, a famous festival of Tamil Nadu. Like all the other festivals of the country that pour magic onto the holidays, Jallikattu is also a cultural festival with its own incredible authenticity. It is celebrated every year during January, on the third day of Pongal. The festival revolves around a traditional sport of bull-taming played by the people in the villages of this South Indian state. The sport takes place in an open ground where the bull is let loose and people have to try to take control of the animal by piling on its horns or hump. Tourists from various countries come to witness this spectacular show. Tamilians consider this festival as a symbol of the dignity of its brilliant culture, which is why it is engraved in the ancient papers of Tamil history.

The History of the Festival

An embodiment of the classical period of Tamil culture, this sport emerged between 400 BC and 100 BC. The traditional sport was conducted and viewed by the people who belonged to the Mullai division of the prehistoric era of Tamil Nadu. Over the years, to attract more people and make more people participate in the sport, a prize money was awarded to anybody with the talent to tame the bull. The National Museum located in New Delhi still preserves the seal representing the sport that originally belonged to the Indus Valley Civilizations. There is even a cave painting coloured with white kaolin that shows a man trying to control an angry bull near the caves of Madura which is believed to be over 1500 years old.

The popular myth revolving around this festival is about how Lord Shiva asked Basava, his bull, to convey two messages. This bull twisted the words of the messages and expressed them in another way. It is said that the bull was asked to tell the human beings on earth to take an oil bath every day and that food must be consumed only once a month for six months. Instead of this message, the bull conveyed that food must be consumed daily and oil baths must be taken only once a month. This debacle made Lord Shiva angry and he cursed the bull to aid humans in cultivating their land for all eternity.

Jallikattu is popularly mentioned in the Dravidian literature as well. This means that the person who tames the bull will win the gold or silver coins that are tied to the bull's horns. When the bulls win during the game, they are used for further breeding and will also be the most expensive cattle in the market.

Duration and main parts of the celebration

This festival takes place only on a single day which is the third day of Pongal, a famous cultural festival of Tamil Nadu. The final day of the Pongal mostly falls between 13th and 17th of January every year. This festival is organised in the various villages of the state.

The most famous region where the festival is celebrated is in Alanganallur, a place near Madurai. Other parts of Tamil Nadu where the festival is celebrated are:

  • Avaniapuram
  • Pallavarayanpatti near Cumbum
  • Tiruvapur near Pudukottai
  • Thammampatti in Salem
  • Kandupatti near Sivagangai
  • Siravayal near Karaikudi
  • Venthanpatti near Pudukottai
  • Palamedu near Madurai

Importance of Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu

Jallikattu is important to every rural farmer of the state as it is an opportunity to flaunt the strength of the bulls and the love they have for their cattle. Tamilians do not consider it to be a leisure sport. It is a tradition that never fails to establish the self-sufficient, hard-working, and powerful Tamil culture. It also symbolises the amazing "man and animal" relationship as farmers consider these bulls to be a member of their family.

The rural areas of Tamil Nadu are no longer synonymous with the ancient agrarian life because of the migration of the youth from villages to metro cities. This festival creates a sense of nostalgia of the ancient times in the rural areas since the state is going through rapid urbanisation. The participants are also driven by this nostalgia, a longing desire to go back in time and relive the old days.

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