Humans of Jallikattu Protests 
The state wide protests against the ban on Jallikattu is gathering steam. Meet the people who are part of it. (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)
The state wide protests against the ban on Jallikattu is gathering steam. Meet the people who are part of it. (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)

Humans of Jallikattu Protests 

Over the last two weeks, the protests against the ban on Jallikattu have gained momentum and support across the state. It’s not often that thousands of people gather peacefully, in swelling numbers, with no political backing or agenda.

A R Rahman has decided to go on a fast this Friday, in support of the ‘Tamil Spirit’.

In an interesting turn, it is Chennai’s common folk, who are inspiring celebrities and leaders into speaking out on the issue. So who are these people? And do all of them feel as strongly for the cause? Let’s meet some of them and then you can decide.

These are images and stories of people from Chennai’s Marina Beach and Alanganallur village.

Latha, in the midst of the protestors, in Alanganallur. (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)
Latha, in the midst of the protestors, in Alanganallur. (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)

‘I’m doing my BSc in Melur. I think we should have Jallikattu. It is our identity after all, and a way of preserving the local breeds. Photo? Sure! Can you send it to me via WhatsApp? Or do you have ShareIt?’

Madhavi, minding her kids, at the Marina beach, Chennai. (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)
Madhavi, minding her kids, at the Marina beach, Chennai. (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)

'My husband is taking care of the 'catering' (food and beverage) here. We just came to support him. The kids didn't go to school today as they found out that I, too, would be going to the beach.'

Rajasekar, leading ‘Selva’ the temple bull across the village. (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)
Rajasekar, leading ‘Selva’ the temple bull across the village. (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)

'Yes, this is the temple bull. No one is allowed to touch it, even when the Jallikattu is held. Keep that stick (selfi-stick) away! Can’t you see the bull is upset? The Collector has allowed only three bulls to be let out. That too, they cannot run for the ‘Vaadi Vaasal’ (ceremonial entrance). I don’t know what sort of Jallikattu this is.’

A protestor at the Chennai Marina Beach. (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)
A protestor at the Chennai Marina Beach. (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)

'I've come all the way from Coimbatore. We need Jallikattu. Why? It is our identity. Aren't you a Tamilian? So what if you haven't played the sport? You can at least support it, can't you? We're going to shout so loud, Delhi will hear it!’

Seenu, a tea seller at the Chennai Marina Beach, wonders when the hullabaloo will end. (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)
Seenu, a tea seller at the Chennai Marina Beach, wonders when the hullabaloo will end. (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)

'I sell tea and Chukku Kaapi here. The crowd came two nights ago. Isn't it over yet? Do you know when they will be done? Business is good for sure. But I don't understand what the fuss is all about.'

Mookkayi Paati, with her grandchildren at Alanganallur. (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)
Mookkayi Paati, with her grandchildren at Alanganallur. (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)

'It's the day after 'Mattu Pongal'. Today is when all of my sons, cousins, and their children have come here to slice a goat and feast. And now I hear no one is allowed. I can't even buy milk for this little one. Banning Jallikattu is pointless. Gathering like no one has any work to do, is equally dumb. Photo? Take it. It's not going to cost you anyway.'

Stalin, who’s climbed up a tree at the protest in Chennai’s Marina Beach. (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)
Stalin, who’s climbed up a tree at the protest in Chennai’s Marina Beach. (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)

How long have you been up there?
'For about two hours now.'
What's your demand?
'Lift the ban on Jallikattu. Change the PCA act. Screw PETA. Screw PETA. Screw PETA.'

Divya Rajendran, at the Chennai Marina Beach. The placard reads ‘We need Jallikattu’ (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)
Divya Rajendran, at the Chennai Marina Beach. The placard reads ‘We need Jallikattu’ (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)

'I came with my husband to support the cause. No, he has never played Jallikattu (laughs, thinking about it). But it is a part of our tradition. Also, I think PETA is out to destroy our local breed of cattle. It is important to stand against all of this.'

Kariyappa, at the Alanganallur market, about a hundred feet away from the protest. (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)
Kariyappa, at the Alanganallur market, about a hundred feet away from the protest. (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)

Had she been there, none of this would have happened. Everyone else is spineless. Cowards all!'

Krishnan, at the Chennai Marina Beach, handling brusque business. (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)
Krishnan, at the Chennai Marina Beach, handling brusque business. (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)

‘I set up shop early in the morning, till about 9 AM by the lighthouse. And then, I took a break and came to this part of the beach, near the Gandhi statue. These people have been protesting for two nights in a row. And all for their basic rights.
You tell me, had ‘SHE’ been there, would she have let this happen?’

Muththu Pechchi, sitting inside one of the many temples, in Alanganallur. Right outside, there is a crowd of over three thousand people  protesting against the ban. (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)
Muththu Pechchi, sitting inside one of the many temples, in Alanganallur. Right outside, there is a crowd of over three thousand people protesting against the ban. (Photo: Vikram Venkateswaran)

'It is a veera vilayattu (game of valour). I don't know what they have gained by banning it. I used to have a bull that would listen to every word of mine. When I say 'come', it would walk towards me. I had to sell it off since there was no Jallikattu for the last three years. The Mother will not stand for such injustice.'