It is Pongal and the Jallikattu is back in full form. The three main jallikattu events will be held at Avaniapuram on January 14, at Palamedu on January 15 and Alanganallur on January 16. And people are flocking to the bull-taming events like never before this time around. And there’s a jallikattu event in the pipeline being organized by the Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Peravai and Chennai Jallikattu Amaipu. In January 2017, we say the Jallikattu movement on the Marina Beach, Chennai, which brought thousands of people – young and old – together. A leaderless and faceless movement, it united lakhs of Tamilians around the world.
But is the jallikattu just about bull-taming and an event? No. This bull-taming event that takes place every year during the harvest festival is a tradition and part of the history and culture of Tamil Nadu. More importantly, it’s the identity of Tamilians. Veteran journalist and political analyst N Sathiya Moorthy in his book ‘Jallikattu – New Symbol of Tamil Angst’ talks about how the Tamilian man and woman felt that their voice was being ignored by the Tamil Nadu government and the state and the political turmoil in Tamil Nadu added to their anxiety and woes.
The pro-jallikattu protests in 2017 were a “symbol of the pent-up Tamil sentiments” and made the world take notice of Tamilians and heard their voice. Speaking to NewsX, President of Jallikattu Peravai, P Rajasekar, who fought relentlessly for the jallikattu to be reinstated in Tamil Nadu says that the Marina protest saw youngsters who have never seen the jallikattu stood up and voiced their protest. “The jallikattu is integral to the people of Tamil Nadu and given that many who stood up at that time haven’t even seen it, we want to bring the jallikattu to Chennai for people to experience what it is really all about,” he explains.
Sathiya Moorthy is clear that such a large-scale protest will not happen in Tamil Nadu happen. Ask him why and he says, “The 2017 protest meant that people felt the government was either ignorant or indifferent to their problems. It was a message to the establishment that it can’t let society’s dissent reach a boiling point.” Meanwhile, the Animal Welfare Board has constituted a committee to monitor the jallikattu taking place across Tamil Nadu. They have also asked the state government to conduct the event within the framed guidelines. The state government has also deployed hundreds of policemen and emergency services for each jallikattu taking place.
With the pro-jallikattu Marina protests ensuring that the voice of the Tamil people was heard and Pongal 2018 set to see its first jallikattu, it is evident that the people of Tamil Nadu are ever-willing to fight for their identity and their rightful place in the history of India.