Jallikattu is illegal as per the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and passing an ordinance to allow the bull-taming sport in Tamil Nadu as part of Pongal celebrations would be “unconstitutional and an inappropriate use of power”, animal rights activists said on Friday. People for Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Pranab Mukherjee and Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave in this regard, PTI reported.

Both PETA and FIAPO have also urged the Tamil Nadu government to enforce the ban on the practice. “No culture promotes violence, least of all towards animals,” FIAPO Director Varda Mehrotra said. “Bovines have always been revered in the Indian culture.” PETA India CEO Poorva Joshipura said: “If miscreants were to enter Lord Shiva’s temple and desecrate Nandi’s idol, people would not stand for it. So why should we support the abuse of living bulls?”

Jallikattu is traditionally organised as part of the five-day Pongal celebrations. The Supreme Court has been hearing petitions on the practice since it was banned in 2014.

There has been a growing call for the ban on jallikattu to be lifted so the sport can be organised in the state for Pongal celebrations, which begin on Saturday. There were protests across Tamil Nadu on Thursday after the Supreme Court refused to pass an early order in the matter. Groups organised jallikattu in pockets of Tamil Nadu in defiance of the court order.

On Monday, Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had written to Modi, urging the centre to pass an ordinance to allow jallikattu to be organised for Pongal. On Wednesday, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam General Secretary Sasikala Natarajan had also asked the prime minister to pass an ordinance on the bull-taming sport. “This sporting event is inextricably linked to the rural, agrarian customs, practices and psyche of the Tamils,” she had said.