The Indian bull taming sport of jallikattu injured 76 people on
jallikattu took place on Monday in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu
as part of the harvest festival of Pongal.
differs from other such sports in the West in that there is no attempt to
favor the bull over the humans involved and the bulls are not killed. In
jallikattu, the bull's horns are sharpened and the human competitors are
not allowed weapons.
are variations on jallikattu, but generally the sport involves people attempting
to subdue or simply hold onto a bull that is running and thrashing about.
Those who can subdue the animal or hold onto him for a predetermined amount
of time are awarded prizes.
has been a lot of attention paid to jallikattu recently, as activists work
to have the games outlawed. A recent legal battle brought by activists resulted
in jallikattu being banned in 2008, but was later reinstated, albeit with
though this sport may seem more tame than bullfighting or the running of
the bulls in Spain, there is still an enormous amount of pain and stress
involved for the animal, as well as danger for the competitors. Activists
have pointed out that although the breeds of bull used in jallikattu are
naturally more aggressive than most other breeds, they are often incited
to be violent and aggressive by means of extreme pain.
bulls are often force-fed alcohol and have chili sprayed in their faces.
The fact that the animals aren't killed after they're tortured in such a
way doesn't begin to justify this cruelty. We don't defend torture of human
beings on the grounds that we at least let them live after we were done
with them. So why should this flawed logic work when we talk about animals?
to host jallikattu, ambulances and medics were waiting outside on Monday,
and eleven people were hospitalized from their injuries. Injuries in jallikattu
and Spaniards alike often invoke "tradition" as a catch-all justification
for these kinds of blood sports, their cultural pride and sense of masculinity
dependent upon their ability to hurt and overpower animals. But the fact
that someone has been doing something cruel and wrong for hundreds of years
doesn't make it acceptable right now.
of jallikattu like to contrast it with Spanish bullfighting, but if you
force an animal under duress and pain to fight and compete in a sport that
it would never participate in voluntarily, you've long since abandoned any
moral high ground, even if the animals aren't killed afterwards.
is no more justifiable than Spanish bullfighting, circuses, zoos, or any
other form of entertainment that relies on the coerced participation of
animals. Animals do not exist for our entertainment any more than they exist
for our consumption. If we want to improve the lives of animals and end
the unnecessary injuries suffered by humans in these ludicrous blood sports,
we must work to end all forms of bullfighting and animal exploitation.