Battleground Jallikattu: Massive show of strength by protestors at Marina Beach
Chennai, (Tamil Nadu), [India], Jan. 23 (ANI): Chennai's Marina Beach is crowded with thousands displaying their sentiments and emotions attached with the bull-taming festival of Jallikattu. They are fighting to keep their culture alive for the coming generations, displaying their collective strength.
Human chains are being formed at the beach to show their cultural unity. They do not want their tradition demolished.
Last week, when the demands to allow Jallikattu during Pongal failed to move the Supreme Court, young men and women started gathering on the beach to protest. What started as a trickle last Tuesday morning became a large crowd of a few thousands overnight.
Driven by social media, the leaderless gathering of young men and women, drawn from across castes and classes, including students and young professionals, became a massive mobilisation of the kind the state has not witnessed in recent years.
For the past six days, Marina Beach has seen massive crowds gathering and demanding a lift of the ban on the traditional sport.
The Tamil Nadu Government had earlier sent an ordinance on Jallikattu to the Home Ministry, which was passed by the Centre Saturday.
Jallikattu, a sport which was restricted to certain parts of the state, is now transformed into a symbol of Tamil pride provoking people's angst against a perceived suppression of their cultural identity.
But it is not about Jallikattu alone, but it encompasses farm distress, drought, lack of rural employment and opportunities, impoverishment of peasants and small farmers. Clearly, the protests seem to reflect the social turmoil, especially in non-urban Tamil Nadu, that the political establishment seems either unaware of, or is insensitive about.
Tamil Nadu is the third largest urbanised state in the country, behind Goa and Kerala. A large part of the population continues to be dependent on agriculture for their living.
Jallikattu involves young men latching on to the hump of bulls. Those who manage to stay put even after the animal makes three jumps are declared a winner. At times, the participants are thrown off the back of bulls or get gored by the animal.
The protests have now moved beyond Jallikattu, to saving Tamil culture. The youth feel political parties have failed to do so and that now, they are the only people who can. They feel that if they exert enough pressure on the state and central governments, the Act will be amended. (ANI)