In the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, people don’t need red capes and sharp swords to tame bulls, they do it with their bare hands, in a sport called Jallikkattu.
The ancient sport of Jallikattu pits crowds of brave young men against angry bulls who will tear anyone apart, if they get in the way. The name of the sport comes from the words “salli”, which translates as “coin”, and “kadu”, which means tying the coin to the horns of the raging bull. The goal of Jallikattu players is to tame the bull long enough to claim the prize.
But that’s is a lot harder than it sounds, especially since the bulls used for Jallikattu are extremely aggressive, and the players aren’t allowed to defend themselves with anything else but their bare hands. The bravest of the young men will try to grab the hump of the bull, and hang on, while the beast will most often grab him with its long horns and plunge him into the ground.
In ancient times, Jallikattu was used by kings, to test their potential son-in-laws. Whichever of the players managed to tame the bull, would win the princess’ hand. Nowadays, prizes consist of money, gold chains, watches and motorcycles. if none of the would-be bull tamers manage to ride it into submission, the prize goes to the bull owner.
Tens of thousands of participants and onlookers gather whenever a Jallikattu game is scheduled, and most of the times hundreds of them end up in the hospital, with serious injuries, and some of them lose their lives. A centuries old tradition, in the Tamil Nadu region, Jallikattu was banned in 2008, following accusations that the bulls are fed alcohol and chili is sprayed in their face, to make them more aggressive. The ban was later removed, but the animals are now checked by a team of veterinarians, before Jallikattu