Bringing back a cruel sport?

These are not jallikattu bulls, but bulls rescued by Blue Cross of India.


By Sharon St Joan


A December 31, 2015 editorial in the newspaper The Hindu, “A Stand Against Reason,” describes the possibility that the cruel sport of “jallikattu,” bull-racing, will be re-introduced in Tamil Nadu, although it was banned last year by the Supreme Court. Here is the gist of the main points in The Hindu editorial:


In human sports, the contenders have a choice as to whether or not to participate in a sport where they may incur a risk of injury. Of course, animals have no such choice.


This is especially true of jallikattu, in which frightened bulls in pain are forced to run a gauntlet of young men trying to leap onto them, hanging onto their horns. The essential cruelty of this “sport” lies in the fact that bulls, unlike horses, do not naturally run. They are tortured behind the scenes, and the significant pain inflicted on them forces them to run through the crowds.


Therefore, it is impossible to hold jallikattu events without inflicting pain and cruelty on the bulls. There is no such thing as “humane jallikattu.


Last year, the Supreme Court of India, ruled that jallikattu is illegal because it is a violation of long-standing Indian law against animal cruelty. Proponents of  jallikattu had argued that these cruel events should be allowed because they are a tradition. However, in a country like India, where traditions go back thousands of years, jallikattu is actually quite recent. It goes back only one or two hundred years. Many of the spectators are foreign tourists, and most Indians do not follow a sport that is unkind to bulls. It was judged to be illegal, by the Supreme Court, because it is abusive towards the animals.


Since then, the Tamil Nadu government has requested that legislation be passed to re-instate the practice of jallikattu. It is surprising that the Minister of the Environment, Prakash Javadekar, has indicated that he is in favor of this request.


Not only is jallikattu extremely inhumane to the bulls, it also resulted in many injuries and deaths every year to the young men who chased the bulls. It would have been preferable if the Tamil Nadu government had taken to heart the intent of the Supreme Court, which was to prevent human injury and loss of life, as well as preventing animal suffering.


It goes against good sense and reason to seek to re-instate a sport that the Supreme Court of India banned, following very thorough, extensive testimony, because of its excessive violence and the suffering inflicted on both humans and bulls.


To read the original December 31, 2015 editorial in The Hindu, click here.


If you wish, you may submit a comment at the end of the article.


Photo: Sharon St Joan, 2012. These are not jallikattu bulls; they are bulls rescued from illegal transport by Blue Cross of India. 



Bulls in India need an email from you

the statue of Nandi at Brihadeshwara Temple

At Brihadeshwara Temple in Tamil Nadu, Nandi, the sacred bull, guards the entrance, just as he has guarded the entrances to all Shiva temples for thousands of years. Like the cow, the bull has always been revered and honored in India.

In modern times though, there have sprung up more recent “traditions”, such as sporting events (some known as jallikattu) in which bulls are forced to participate and which are very cruel to them.  It is sad to see this happening in India, since it goes against the time-honored respect that India holds for all life.

Within a couple of days there will be a court case to determine whether bulls should be used in these various kinds of sporting events in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. All these events, like bullock cart racing and jallikattu, subject the bulls to suffering and abuse.  It is not natural for bulls to race, so they must be mistreated to get them to run.

A few months ago, the Hon’able Jayanthi
 Natarajan, one of the ministers of Tamil Nadu, was instrumental in passing a ruling that bulls should not be used in sports events as performing animals.  However, as you can imagine, those who are profiting from using the bulls in races, would like to continue these events, and they have been very active in making their voices heard.  So it would be helpful if all of us can make known our wish that the bulls should be treated with kindness, respect, and compassion and not be used in racing, which is inhumane.

Please send an email, thanking the Minister for the ruling she issued banning bulls from being used as performing animals and expressing your wish that bulls may continue to be protected from having to participate in any sporting events.  Below is the letter that I sent.  Please use the same form of address, but please do not use my words, since it will be more effective to use your own words.  The points made can be the same. The email address is  Thank you for taking this step to help the bulls in India!

Hon’ble Jayanthi Natarajan


Ministry of Environment & Forests

Government of India

Dear Hon’ble Jayanthi Natarajan,

I was very happy a few months ago to learn that your Ministry had issued a notification banning the use of bulls in performing.

This is an extremely important issue because India is known throughout the world as a country that respects animals, especially cows and bulls, who are so abused in much of the world, for example, by being slaughtered for food.

It is essential that India set an example for the rest of the world by ensuring that bulls are never used in any kind of sports events, races, or contests, or in any similar ways that could cause suffering to them.

Bulls must be honored, respected, and allowed to live in peace.

Only by honoring and caring for animals can we as humans create a society where there is peace and well-being.

Thank you for ensuring that bulls in Tamil Nadu will be safe and well-cared for and for preserving and protecting the noble traditions of India, which always show kindness to animals.


Sharon St Joan