Editorial: A North Indian’s Support for Jalikattu

First and foremost, I would like to thank the Prime Minister Mr Modi for keeping Jalikattu alive!

Ever since a full fledge ban on Jalikattu, a bull taming festival, has taken place there are widespread protests across Tamil Nadu demanding the restore of the tradition. PETA and other animal welfare organizations were trying to paint Jalikattu as a cruel sport in which people deliberately tame the bulls for their entertainment purposes. It was directly compared with bull fighting of Spain. The height was achieved when Maneka Gandhi compared it with Bakrid, in which animals are slaughtered.

Jalikattu’s presence can be marked somewhere 2000 years ago. Jalikattu was never only a sport or tradition. It was also a way to preserve native breeds of bulls which would ultimately be the only rescue of them, provided these days the tasks of animals is greatly reduced by machinery. A century before, a bull was used for carts, for ploughing fields, for crusher (kolhu) to extract oils but now with the change in technologies, their use has been narrowed to help breeding. We still don’t have any kind of machinery to do that.

With all the circumstances going against the bulls, there is not much incentive to raise them. Add to it the artificial insemination techniques which again take away the remnant incentive for their costly raising. The artificial techniques have led us to the severe infusion of foreign sperms to impregnate our indigenous cows which made them produce A1 milk.

A1 and A2 Milk-

Our desi cows produce A2 milk whereas western cows produce A1 milk. A1 and A2 are two forms of beta casein proteins. Some reports have claimed that A1 proteins are difficult to digest and may be a cause of diabetes, autism, Alzheimer’s and heart diseases whereas there are no allegations against A2 milk. The advantage of western cows over desi ones is they produce more milk but there is a cost of health which the consumer has to pay. Our farmers breed with foreign bulls because of higher yield.

Amul has recently launched A2 milk in Indian market which may let our farmers to have desi cows. Desi cows should be fertilized with desi bulls, else the offspring may be an A1 producing cow.

Here comes Jalikattu-

In the famous tradition called Jalikattu, only native breeds are allowed to participate. There are six native breeds of bulls in Tamil Nadu out of which one is already extinct. The others’ population has reduced drastically because of no incentive to raise bulls. The remaining incentive to raise the native breed is Jalikattu, in which the most agile and virile bulls are chosen as stud bulls to inseminate cows. It is our traditional way of choosing the best bulls for practice.

The myth propagated is that bulls are tortured. Yes there have been incidents where in chilly powder was sprinkled into his eyes but such kinds of incidents are too rare to be noticed. Jalikattu happens at thousands of places but there have been not so many noticeable incidents. Wherever such incidents have happened, we strongly condemn those and in favor of prosecuting the culprits. But on a large scale, no bulls are killed or tortured. Also, jalikattu occurs in the regulation where the bull is checked for his health by government authorities.


The government had started regulating jalikattu before it faced a full-fledged ban in 2014. Some regulations like the one on the health check of the bulls are justifiable, but there were many other questionable ones. On the similar lines, the last year the courts started regulating Janmashtmi. Then what’s next? Ban on janmashtmi? And then maybe Diwali, Holi, Dussehra and even Raksha Bandhan can fall prey. Same PETA activists even demanded a ban on kites on Makar Sankranti.

If this continues, slowly and subtly the government (or courts) will start telling you what to wear, what to read and what to play (they already started with this part). Then India may become a semi-totalitarian regime if such policies continue.

The duty of judiciary is to solve legal disputes, not to poke in its nose and create new issues. Had there been a law to ban jalikattu, then the stance of the courts would have been understandable, but here in this case it is like idiocy.

And PETA, the protagonist behind the ban has itself killed 34000 animals in its care in last 20 years. The laughable thing is they talk of ethical treatment of animals. Or maybe they don’t consider killing unethical. And that may be one of the reasons they fall silent on the issue of animal slaughter.