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Jallikattu: The ancient sport of Indian civilization

Jallikattu: The ancient sport of Indian civilization

On a warm day, Ram ate his favourite Sakkara Pongal. Ram's grandfather awoke from his afternoon snooze and requested for some Pongal. Ram returned with another cup of steaming sakkara pongal and handed it to him. His grandfather remembered the Pongal celebration from his childhood. He asked Ram whether he knew what Jallikattu was while reminiscing about the past. Ram quickly responded that it was the sport in which men manhandled bulls. His grandfather was disturbed by his ignorance and told him about a traditional Tamil Nadu sport.

During the Pongal Festival, the villages of Tamil Nadu become vibrantly coloured, with houses lavishly decked without compromising the traditions. Pongal is known for its sugar canes and rice and pulse delicacies, which contribute to the festival's excitement. On Pongal, beautiful Rangolis can be seen early in the morning.

Jallikattu, or taming the Bull, is part of the yearly routine of Pongal. There have been several conflicting interpretations on this one subject, but the obvious fact is that Jallikattu is one of Tamil Nadu's oldest surviving warrior games. Jallikattu has significant parallels in literature dating back to the Sangam Age (400 BC – 300 AD), and the sport is depicted in detail in the Sangam Literature Kalithogai, an assortment of 150 poems written in 200 BC. Jallikattu is traditionally referred to as "Yeru Thazhuvudhal", where Yeru refers to the Bull and Thazuvudhal refers to hugging.

Essentially, the farming community of Tamil Nadu has a profound emotional tie with bulls, the masters of the crop fields. Since every other house in Tamil Nadu is an agricultural household, the bulls and cows in the homes are also revered during this festival. This sport, once known as Yeru Thazhuudhal, was practiced until the reign of the Nayak rulers, when the name was changed to Jallikattu.

Ram had completed his Sakkara Pongal at this point, and his grandfather's Pongal was growing cold. His grandfather ingrained in him a desire to respect ancient cultures and discover the profound meanings underlying them. Ram glanced at his grandfather as he began to eat his Pongal, wondering how far he would go in life, what traditions he would follow, and how he would share his tale with his generation.

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