Jalikattu, or Salikattu, as it was formerly called, is a traditional sport, typically practic ed in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations. On Mattu Pongal day, which is the third day of the four-day Pongal Festival, a bull is released into crowd of people with a prize of coins tied to its horns. Multiple human participants attempt to grab the large hump of the bull with both arms and hang on to it, while the bull attempts to escape. The participants also try to take away the prize of coins hanging to its horns. The tradition has been known to be practiced during the Tamil classical period (400-100 BC).It was common among the ancient people living in the ‘Mullai' area of the ancient Tamil state. Later it became a platform for display of bravery and prize money was introduced for encouraging participation.
There are several rules and regulations to the sport. The contestant cannot hit or hurt the bull in any manner. Moreover the participants are not allowed to hold the bull by its neck, horns or tail. Holding the bull anywhere other than its hump, results in the disqualification of the participant. Only one contestant should hold on to the bull at one time. If more than one contestant holds on to the bull, then there is no winner.
Recently there has been a lot of controversy regarding the tradition. There have been animal welfare concerns related to the handling of the bulls before they are released and during the competitors' attempts to subdue the bull. An investigation by the Animal Welfare Board of India concluded that "Jalikattu is inherently cruel to animals". Animal welfare organizations, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations (FIAPO) and PETA India have been protesting against the practice since 2004. The Animal Welfare Board of India filed a case in the Supreme Court for an outright ban on Jalikattu because of the cruelty of animals and the threat to public safety involved. On November 27 2010, the Supreme Court permitted the Government of Tamil Nadu to allow Jalikattu for five months in a year and directed the District Collectors to make sure that the animals that participate in Jal ikattu are registered to the Animal Welfare Board and in return the Board would send its represent ative to monitor the event. The Government of Tamil Nadu ordered th at ₹2 lacs be deposited by the organizers in case of an accident or injury during the event and enacted a rule to allow a team of veterinarians be present at the venue for certifying the bulls for participation in the event and to provide treatment for bulls that get injured. The Ministry of Environment and Forests issued a notification in 2011 that banned the use of bulls as performing animals, th ereby banning the event. But the practice continued to be held under Tamil Nadu Regulation of Ja likattu Act No. 27 of 2009. On May 7 2014, the Supreme Court of India struck down the state law and banned Ja likattu altogether. The Supreme Court noted that any flouting of the ban should result in penalties for cruelty to animals under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The Court also asked the Government to amend the law on preventing cruelty to animals to bring bulls within its ambit. The Supreme Court also ruled that cruelty is inherent in these events, as bulls are not anatomically suited for such activities and making them participate is subjecting them to unnecessary pain and suffering, so such events were outlawed.
In May 2014, the Supreme Court of India banned the practice, cit ing animal welfare concerns. On January 8 2016, the Government of Ind ia passed an order exempting Ja likattu from all performances where bulls can 't be used, effectively reversing the ban. However, on January 14 2016, the Supreme Court of India upheld its ban on the event, leading to protests all over Tamil Nadu . On the same day, the Ministry of Environment and Forests permitted the continuation of the tradition under certain conditions, effectively ending the ban. However this was overturned by the Supreme Court on July 26. On January