Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Monday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pass an ordinance to allow the bull-taming sport of jallikattu during the Pongal festival this year. “Given the urgency of the issue, the government of India should consider promulgating an ordinance to remove the legal impediments and enable the conduct of jallikattu during Pongal, 2017,” he said in a letter to Modi, according to The Indian Express.
Jallikattu is traditionally organised as part of the five-day Pongal celebrations, which begins on January 14 this year. The Supreme Court has been hearing petitions on the practice since it was banned in 2014.
“The ban on jallikattu has caused widespread resentment and general disappointment among the people of Tamil Nadu, particularly in rural areas, since jallikattu is intertwined with the religious, social and cultural ethos of the Tamil society,” Paneerselvam said in the letter, adding that former chief minister J Jayalalithaa had also sought an exemption for the traditional sport.
Meanwhile, the Centre changed the status of the Pongal festival from a compulsory holiday to a restricted one.
On July 26, 2016, the Supreme Court had said jallikattu may be 5,000 years old, but it was for the judiciary to decide whether the practice could continue. “We have to show compassion to the animals. It is our constitutional obligation,” the bench had said.
The state, however, had argued for the sport to be allowed because it was a centuries-old tradition in the region. The Law and Justice Ministry had given its approval to a draft amendment of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, which would allow the use of animals in traditional cultural practices.