Saturday, 21 January 2017

Jallikattu & Bullfighting : Differences - Aish

Generally, people associate Jallikattu to Bull Fighting, but the reality is these two vary a lot from each other. According to the sources, there are major differences between Jallikattu and Bullfighting. Let us leap through them in detail ;


The term Jallikattu is obtained from the Tamil words - Salli (Coins) + Kattu (tied together), which describes how the participants attempt to attain the coins tied to the horns of the bull. Jallikattu symbolizes - "Yeru thazhuvuthal" which means "Bull Embracing" and "Manju Virattu" which means "Bull Chasing".
Bullfighting is popularly known as the Corrida de toros (the running of bulls) or La Fiesta (the festival) in Spanish.


Jallikattu is a traditional practice by people of Tamil Nadu in South of India. It is mainly performed in rural places like Allanganallur of Madurai, Sivagangai, Pudukottai, Thanjavur, Salem and other Southern parts of Tamil Nadu in India where the bulls enters from closed gates called "Vadi Vasal".
Bullfighting can be found within Europe like Spain, France and Portugal. Bullfighting takes place in a large outdoor arena known as the Plaza de Toros in Spanish. In Latin America, bullfighting can be found in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. ‘Bloodless’ bullfights can also be found in the USA.


Jallikattu is performed on Maatu Pongal, the third day of the Pongal Festival (the celebration for Sun God) during the month of January and sometimes lasts till June. Maatu Pongal refers to the festival mainly dedicated to the sacred cattle by expressing their gratitude and prayers.
Bullfighting season in Spain runs from March to October.

4. HOW

Jallikattu is performed in different styles

A. Vadi Manjuviraแนญแนญu : A bull is released from an enclosure known as the "Vadi Vasal". Only one bull tamer has to attempt this by holding the hump for a predetermined distance and try to retrieve the coins from the horn.
B. Vadam Manjuvirattu : In this method, the Bull is tied to a Rope (Vadam) and is free to move within the space, where all the spectators are outside the barricades. A team of participants attempt to subdue the bull within 30 minutes.
C. Vaeli Manjuviraแนญแนญu: In this method, the bull is released into an open ground without any restrictions of rope or predetermined distance. Most released bulls come neither to any human, but few bulls just stand in a place and depict the acts or "plays" not allowing humans to come near. They say it's a wonderful spectacle not to be missed.

According to the sources of Bullfighting, there are many types of bullfighting styles varied in different countries. Some of the popular Bullfighting styles used in many parts of the world are -

The Spanish version which is the most common across both Europe and Latin America includes three stages of Bullfighting :
A. Tercio de Varas (The Lancing Third)
As the bull is released into the ring it is tested for ferocity by the matador and banderilleros.
B. Tercio de Banderillas (The third of Banderillas)
In this, each of the three banderilleros attempts to plant two banderillas (sharp barbed sticks) into the bull's shoulders.
C. Tercio de Muerte (The third of Death)
In the final stage, the matador re-enters the ring alone with a small red cape, or muleta, and a sword and kills the Bull.

The Portuguese Bullfights involves two stages of Bullfighting :

A. The spectacle of the Cavaleiro (Spectacle of Gallant)
Here, a horseman fights the bull and stabs three or four bandeiras (small javelins) into the back of the bull seated on a Portuguese Lusitano horse (specially trained for the fights).
B. Pega (Holding)
In this stage a group of eight men (forcados), try to subdue the bull without any weapon for defence. But, the bull is later killed outside the arena by a butcher.

The French style, a bloodless spectacle yet a stressful act is sported in two ways

A. Course camarguaise / Course libre
The main objective in this type of Bullfighting is to snatch a rosette from the head of a bull.
B. Course landaise
In this type, Cows are used instead of bulls.

U.S.A also sports a bloodless Bullfighting which is popularly known as - Freestyle bullfighting. This is a 70-second competition in which the bullfighter (Rodeo clown) avoids the bull by means of dodging, jumping and use of a barrel.


In Jallikattu, farmers breed specific bulls known as Zebu or Humped Cattle one of the subspecies of domestic cattle orginated in South Asia, which is mainly used for this sport aiding them economically. In most parts of South Asia, Zebu are used as draught oxen, dairy cattle and are used for byproducts wherein their dung is used for fuel and manure.
For the Spanish Bullfighting, a special breed called the Iberian heterogeneous cattle population is primarily bred in Spain, Portugal and Latin American countries where bull fighting is organized.


Bulls in Jallikattu are looked upon as a sacred animal. This sport being just "Bull taming" is performed without causing any harm or injury at the most to the animals with no usage of weapons too.
But in most of the Bullfighting, Bulls are brutally killed inside or outside the arena with weapons.


According to the ancient Tamil Sangams, Jallikattu has been traditionally practised for taming the bull to breed and is raised by the farmers mainly to benefit them financially and economically deepening the roots of the Tamil culture.
Bullfighting is considered to be the cutural event in many countries but is a mere entertainment in most.

"Tradition does not mean to look after the ash, but to keep the flame alive." - Jean Jaures


Sripriya said...

Differences beautifully formulated Aish. Traditions are to be appreciated, to be practiced and to be passed on to the next generation.

Unknown said...

Absolutely Priya! Traditions reflect our roots and deepen our Culture. Thank you Priya ๐Ÿ˜Š