Why Alanganallur is the hotbed of Jallikattu protests

Anusha Ravi explains why this small town in Madurai has seen so many protests against the state and the Central government in the last few days

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Hundreds gathered at Alanganallur in Madurai to protest against the ban on Jallikattu. The situation turned tense as the gathering went on to hold Jallikattu, resulting in a showdown with the police. For over four days now, Alanganallur has been seeing massive protests against PETA, the state and the Central government. For centuries, Alanganallur in Madurai has been the primary venue for Jallikattu. The town sees hundreds of visitors every year for this very event. Primarily an agrarian town, Alanganallur has turned into a battlefield of 'Tamil Pride' ever since the controversy on Jallikattu broke out.

Why Alanganallur is the hotbed of Jallikattu protests

The Periyar sub-canal makes the land extremely fertile with yields all around the year. Rice, sugarcane, coconuts and plantains are grown in the town making it heavily agriculture-dependent. With agriculture comes the rearing of cattle.'Alanganallur Jallikattu Kalai', is directly equated to the best breed of bulls in Tamil Nadu.

Bulls in Alanganallur are trained year after year for this very event. The largely agrarian town depends on Jallikattu to decide on the bulls that will help take forward the progeny. The strongest of the bulls are chosen to keep the breed alive.

Bulls that were initially used for agriculture-related labour have very little to do with the advent of technology. The very job of these bulls is now limited to keeping the breed alive. For a state that has already lost its indigenous breeds of cattle, Jallikattu is looked at as the only way to save the indigenous cattle.

Taking off from Alanganallur, nearby towns of Palamedu etc began organising Jallikattu events of their own. Slowly and steadily the sport made inroads into other districts of Tamil Nadu. The village deity temple in Alanganallur is where the event begins from every year. Prayers are offered at the temple following which the bulls are let into the sporting fray through the 'Vadivasal'. These gateways have been dismantled this time around by the police and a state government that is compelled to follow the Supreme Court's ban.

With celebrities openly endorsing Jallikattu and inviting people to take part or be an audience to the event across the state has only made matters worse. While for the people of Tamil Nadu it is a way to reclaim 'Tamil Pride' that they had let go since 2014 when the sport was banned, for the state government it is a matter of avoiding being held in contempt of court. The seat of Jallikattu, Alanganallur, has turned into a battlefield in an attempt to reclaim a 'traditional sport'.

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