There is a festival in India in which a bull is released into a crowd of people is known as Jallikattu or Sallikkattu and is also known as Yeru thazhuvuthal and Manju Virattu. In this game, multiple human participants try to grab the large hump of the Bos indicus bull ( which is commonly of the Kangayam breed) which was earlier released in the crowd and hang onto the bull while he attempts to escape. Jallikattu is typically practiced as a part of Pongal celebrations in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu on Mattu Pongal day.
Jallikattu practice has been described as Yeru thazhuvuthal in Ancient Tamil Sangams, which literally means “Bull embracing”. The modern term Sallikkattu refers to a prize of coins (usually tied to the bull’’s horns and participants try to retrieve that) as Saali is coins and kattu is a package. In the ancient Tamil country, Aayars, who lived n the ‘Mullai’ division, were used to practice jallikattu during the Tamil classical period of (400-100BC). Later it became the platform for displaying bravery and for participation encouragement, prize money was introduced. In the national museum, New Delhi, a seal from the Indus valley Civilization depicting the practice is preserved.
There are many variants of this game. Some of the variants include:
- Vadi Manjuvirattu: In this most common category of Jallikattu, the bull is released from a closed space. The contestants try to hold onto the hump of the bull after wrapping their arms or hands around it. This is most common in Madurai, Thanjavur, and Salem and only one participant is allowed at a time.
- Veli Virattu: In this variant, the bull is directly released into open ground and the approach is slightly different from Vadi Manjuvirattu but the rules are the same.
- Vatam Manjuvirattu: The bull is tied with a 15-meter rope in this variant. The bull can move freely anywhere as there are no other physical restrictions for the bull. A team of seven to nine members can attempt to seal the bull in the time period of 30 minutes.
There are some general rules to Jallikattu like The bull will be released on the arena through the vadi vasal (entry gate). Holding the bull by the neck, horns or tail results in disqualification and the bull should be held by its hump. The contestant should hold the bull's hump for 30 seconds or for 4.6 meters (15 ft), whichever is the longer. The bull will be declared victorious, if the bull throws the contestant off before the line or if no-one manages to hold on to the bull. The contestant is declared the winner if the contestant manages to hold on to the hump till it crosses the finish line. Only one contestant should hold on to the bull at one time. No contestant should hit or hurt the bull in any manner.