Jallikattu- A symbol of valour and pride

   Mattu Pongal is here and it’s time for the traditional Tamil sport of Jallikattu. Despite repeated legal hassles, the sport has been entrenched in the ethos of Tamil people since the Sangam era.

   The most common form of the sport Vadi Manjuvirattu is played in the southern districts of Madurai, Salem, Theni and Thanjavur. In this, a bull is held in an enclosed space and the players hold onto the hump one at a time.

 In another version called Veli Virattu, the bull is let to run free in an open space and participants attempt to hold onto the bull as it runs. This is popular in the Sivagangai district of Tamilnadu.

 Another form is Vattam Manjuvirattu where the bull is tied to a rope and let loose. A team of 7-9 players try to untie a prize tied to the Bull’s horn. A time limit is set and the winning team wins a grand prize.

 Jallikattu has become synonymous with the bravery and physical prowess of the bull and the player.This ancient sport has been played in its various forms for centuries. In fact,  a seal (dated between 2,500 BC and 1,800 BC) discovered at Mohenjodaro portrays this sport in all it’s glory and gore. While safety concerns for both remain, the ancient sport still runs hot in Tamil veins.


  Traveller’s Tip
Jallikattu tournaments are held in Avaniyapuram, Palamedu, and Alanganallur in Madurai district. The most famous is the Alanganallur jallikattu which is a 30-minute drive from Madurai.

Story credit : Angeline Sajini
Picture Credit : RJ Auro


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