Jallikattu 2019: Significance, history and importance of bull taming festival starting today
Jallikattu is a custom practiced where cattle stock are worshipped, during the Pongal festival, primarily in Tamil Nadu. This year it is being celebrated on January 15. It is a sport where a bull is let loose among a crowd of people. The participants are supposed to take control of the bull by holding its hump for as long as they can.
The festival is celebrated on Mattu Pongal, the third day of the harvest festival. Its name is derived from the Tamil words ‘salli’ meaning coins and ‘kattu’ meaning package. This refers to the bag of coins which is tied to the bull’s horns which participants try to get hold of.
The bull species called Bos indicus, or humped cattle, is specifically bred for Jallikatu. The bulls that do well at the event are used latter for breeding.
According to a famous legend, Lord Shiva had asked his bull, Basava, to send a message to those on Earth that they should take an oil bath daily and have food once a month for a period of six months. But Basava mixed up the messages and ended up asking people to eat everyday and take an oil bath once a month. This angered Lord Shiva and he punished Basava by cursing him to aid humans in ploughing fields. Those who believe in this legend pray to the cattle stock and try to tame them during Jallikattu.