India allows controversial bull-taming event to continue

India allows controversial bull-taming event to continue
A participant tries to control a bull during the annual bull-taming festival Jallikkattu, Tamil Nadu, India, photo: Sri Loganathan Velmurugan / Hans Lucas

The Supreme Court of India decided on Thursday to allow the controversial bull-taming sport of Jallikattu to continue. This traditional event, heavily criticized by animal rights groups, is celebrated as a significant cultural heritage in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

The court concluded that the state government has been taking adequate measures to reduce the pain and suffering of the animals involved. The judgment means that Jallikattu, along with other bull races across the nation, can carry on despite opposition from animal welfare organizations.

These groups had filed petitions against the sport, branding Jallikattu as a dangerous bloodsport. Bulls often pose a threat to riders and spectators alike as they attempt to flee crowded surroundings in fear.

Jallikattu is a major attraction during Tamil Nadu’s four-day Pongal harvest festival in January. Hundreds of bull jumpers participate in the event, competing for various prizes.

During the contest, a man must grip the hump of a bull tightly as he runs and jumps, trying to stay on for three jumps or 30 seconds.

Poorvi Joshipura, a spokesperson for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, expressed disappointment with the court’s decision, saying it “makes our country look regressive in the eyes of the world.”

Joshipura underscored the human and animal toll linked to Jallikattu, stating, “Since 2017, at least 104 men and children and 33 bulls have died. More deaths will occur.” She highlighted that other nations are moving toward prohibiting such sports.

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