Jallikattu Festival

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Jan 10, 2023, 17:23

Jallikattu is a bull festival celebrated during Pongal in Tamil Nadu, India. In this festival, a bull is set loose into a crowd of willing participants, who try to grab the bull’s hump to grab the pack of coins set on the bull’s horns. Jallikattu is an important part of the Tamil culture and an essential part of the Pongal celebrations in South India.

Thousands of people from around the country and the world come to Tamil Nadu to witness this unique celebration. Go through the information shared below to understand what Jallikattu Festival in Pongal is and what is its history and significance.

About Jallikattu

Emerging in 400 BC -100 BC, Jallikattu Festival (named ஏறுதழுவல் in Tamil) has been celebrated since the Tamil classical period. The festival is organized in an open ground where participants try to grab the hump of a bull in an attempt to retrieve the pack of coins from its horns. Jallikattu was banned by the Supreme Court but in 2017, the ban was lifted after protests in support of the sport.

While attempting to tame the bull, many people have previously lost their lives in Jallikattu. Moreover, animal welfare organizations such as PETA have heavily criticized the sport because the bull is sometimes harmed in the commotion that occurs during the festival.

Festival Name


Also Known As

Sallikkattu, Manju Virattu, Eru Thazhuvuthal

Observed In

Tamil Nadu, India


During Pongal (in January)

Jallikattu 2023 Date

15 January


Open Ground


It is a sport played since the Tamil Classical era. It requires participants to grab the hump of a bull in an attempt to grab the pack of coins from the bull’s horns.

History of Jallikattu Festival

The history of Jallikattu can be traced back to the Tamil Classical era, between 400—100 BC. During this time, the sport was famous among the Ayar people from the Mullai part of Tamil Nadu. This festival signifies strength, bravery and valour. Ultimately, the Jallikattu sport was encouraged among men who wanted to display their bravery.

In later years, a prize money was introduced for the winner of Jallikattu. This sport is depicted in a seal from the Indus Valley Civilization, which is carefully preserved in the National Museum in New Delhi.

Which State is Associated with Jallikattu?

The Indian state of Tamil Nadu is associated with Jallikattu. The sport is an important part of the heritage and culture of Tamil Nadu. Every year, the Jallikattu sport witnesses mass participation from Tamils, who gather in an open ground to wait for the bull to be released.

Preparation for Jallikattu Festival

  • To prepare for Jallikattu, people play Kabaddi as a warm-up sport.
  • Thirty days before the event, the organizers take written permission from the collector of the district.
  • The open area where the bull is released during Jallikattu is double barricaded for safety.
  • The Animal Husbandry Department conducts tests before the Jallikattu festival to check that the bulls are treated properly and no drugs are used on them.
  • The bulls are released in the arena through a special gate called the vadi vasal.

Jallikattu - Rules

People participating in the Jallikattu sport must follow certain rules. The rules for the festival are as follows:

  • The first rule of the sport is that the participants must only hold the bull's hump while trying to get to the pack of coins on the bull’s horns.
  • In case they try to hold the bull’s neck or tail or other parts, they are instantly disqualified.
  • If a contestant playing Jallikattu falls or is thrown away by the bull, he loses.
  • People must hold onto the bull’s hump for 30 or more seconds. This rule varies from region to region.
  • If two people hold the bull’s hump at the same time, they lose.
  • Jallikattu is only open to male participants.

Jallikattu Festival - Venues

Jallikattu is organized in several venues each year. The following are some of the popular venues for the Jallikattu festival in Tamil Nadu:























*These are the Important Places Where Jallikattu Happens every year other than this there are so many places where Jallikattu festival will be happening around Tamilnadu (especially south Tamilnadu districts like Madurai, Pudukkottai, Trichy, Sivagangai, etc.,)

Jallikattu - Animal Rights Concerns

In recent years, the Jallikattu sport has been controversial due to PETA’s claim that this sport involves animal abuse. Some people resort to harming the bull with a knife or sticks while attempting to tame it. Sometimes, it leads to violent deaths. The following statistics show the casualty rates during the festival:

  • Between 2008 to 2014 - 4 bulls and 43 humans were killed.
  • 2017 - 27 people lost their lives while 2,500 people and numerous bulls got severely injured.
  • 2020 - 5 Jallikattu participants died during the event.

Pro-Jallikattu Protests

Since Jallikattu is a controversial sport, many individuals and organizations have tried to get it banned several times. Here is a timeline of all the times when this sport was banned in India:

  • 29th March 2006 - Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court bans the Jallikattu sport.
  • 10th January 2007 - Organizers file an appeal against the ban.
  • 27th July 2007 - The Supreme Court stays the Madras High Court’s order of banning Jallikattu.
  • 21st July 2009 - An Act for the Regulation of Jallikattu is passed by the ruling DMK party.
  • 8th April 2011 - PETA challenges the Act.
  • 7th May 2014 - The Supreme Court officially bans Jallikattu.
  • 23rd January 2017 - After several pro-Jallikattu protests and pleas, the Supreme Court passes the Jallikattu Bill.

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FAQs on Jallikattu

Q1. What is Jallikattu?

Jallikattu (ஜல்லிக்கட்டு) is a traditional event celebrated during Pongal celebrations in Tamil Nadu, India. In this event, a bull is released into a crowd of human participants who try to hang on the hump on the bull’s back to bring it to a stop. Jallikattu festival is very popular and is generally held in January.

Q2. When will Jallikattu 2023 be celebrated?

Jallikattu or ஏறு தழுவுதல் will be celebrated on 15th, 16th and 17th of January 2023 in Avaniapuram, Palamedu, and Alanganallur respectively. This festival is celebrated to worship cattle during the Mattu Pongal. The unique tradition of Jallikattu involves a bull being set loose into a crowd of people, who try to tame him by hanging onto the bull’s hump.

Q3. Which state is famous for Jallikattu sport?

Tamil Nadu in India is famous for the Jallikattu sport. Every year, Jallikattu is played in January during Pongal, with hundreds of participants who try to tame a bull. Jallikattu has been banned several times in the past few years because some people claim that it is a sport that abuses bulls.

Q4. Why is Jallikattu celebrated?

Jallikattu is celebrated during Pongal to worship cattle stock. Derived from the word “Sallikattu”, which means “package of coins”, Jallikattu involves attaching a package of coins to the horns of a bull. This bull is set loose into a crowd of willing participants who try to retrieve the package and tame the bull.

Q5. Is Jallikattu banned?

Jallikattu has been banned in India several times. It was banned in 2006 and 2014 by the Supreme Court after PETA filed a plea with the court. However, citing traditions, people have been protesting for conducting the Jallikattu sport and eventually, the ban was lifted from the sport.