Thonda’s Bulls Travel In Luxury While His People Suffer

  • Uva Province Minister for Highways, Senthil Thondaman is taking his bulls around in air-conditioned comfort
  • Bulls are taken special care in every village because they are engaged in a number of  religious activities
  • The Bull Taming Pongal event dates back to the Tamil Classic Period (400-100 BC)

by Ifham Nizam

Jallikattu bull fighting and Senthil Thondaman clinching the top award

While the estate workers continue to suffer and demand better wages, Uva Province Minister for Highways, Senthil Thondaman is taking his bulls around in air-conditioned comfort.

Thondaman’s Jallikattu bulls that struck gold at the famed Alanganallur event in Madurai were reported to be enjoying the luxury.

However, speaking to The Sunday Leader, Thondaman said that people, especially those from the upcountry should not find fault when it comes to treating bulls in a special way adding that the bulls are very sacred and used for cultural and religious purposes.

Senthil Thondaman stressed that it is a must that bulls are given special care before a tournament of any nature and transporting them in air conditioned vehicles or at the right temperatures is a must.

“We have about 10 bulls and we treat them like our family members. There are separate rooms and a swimming pool for the bulls. As swimming is the best exercise to make them strong, a tank was converted into an exclusive pool so that they can swim around without risking injuries,” he said.

The bulls that  were successful in the Jallikattu event are used as studs for breeding. These bulls also fetch higher prices in the markets

He countered allegations by stressing that for generations they were involved in bull fighting. Even in Tamil Nadu only eight districts has Jallikattu bulls. It is a practice for more than 5,000 years to have them. “We consider having them  a prestige and sacred. Allegations are baseless because I am spending my own money and you don’t need to spend much to feed them, he stressed.

Bulls are taken special care in every village because they are engaged in a number of activities be it Hindu, Muslim or Christianity. “We use them for festivals between January and November.”


Happy owner

He also said that of more than 5,000 bulls only 520 were selected to the competition and his bull clichéd the first slot at the famed Alanganallur event in Madurai.

Jallikattu, also known as Eruthazhuvuthal had a grand return on January 22 with an ordinance passed in favour of Tamil Nadu’s traditional bull-taming sport after some environmental organisation especially the US based PETA filed actions against it, he says.

However, the protesters in Madurai refused to stop agitation and demand permanent solution for Jallikattu and are adamant on not letting the event happen until a permanent solution is found. Jallikattu has been the topic of debate for quite some time .

He says Bull Taming Pongal event dates back to the Tamil Classic Period (400-100 BC).

Jallikattu took place in Alangallur in Madurai and the rest of the state after Tamil Nadu Governor C.H Vidyasagar Rao got the sanction for the conduct of Jallikattu from the President as envisaged under Article 213 of the Constitution.

Tamil Nadu’s significant festival, Jallikattu is an annual event where people try to tame and hug the bull and has been a part of traditional celebrations of the four-day harvest festival, Pongal. The Supreme Court of India had banned this thousand-year-old tradition in 2014 classifying the sport as animal cruelty. The state government has been in favour of conducting the event, which has also been supported by celebrated actors and politicians.

However, the Supreme Court banned the sport after a petition by PETA.

The name Jallikattu has two components, Jalli also known as ‘salli’ or ‘kasu’, which translates into coins, and Kattu which means bundle or pouch. This is an indication to a yellow pouch of coins, which is tied to the bull’s horn. The sport is also called as Eruthazhuvuthal, which means ‘hugging the bull’.

Jallikattu has been in a traditional practice since 400-100 B.C. and was traditionally a part of finding a strong groom. The person who successfully tamed the bull would get to marry the maiden. The sport was played by the ancient Mayor or Yadava in the ancient Tamil country and later evolved to be a sport played to display their strength and to win prize money. The customary sport is played during Pongal as a way to include Lord Muniswara.

The sport which is played on the third day of Pongal has a natively reared bull being left free in an arena. Groups of people enter this arena and have to try and tame the bull with bare hands. The participants try to do this by holding the bull by its tail or horns. The bulls are specially prepared for these events by various farmers. The bulls are often taken for swims to strengthen its legs, and various measures are taken to make the bull strong and healthy.

The event has been supported and promoted by the majority of the people including the state government, the centre as well as famous actors like Kamal Haasan. However, PETA India raised concerns that the sport was causing injuries to the animal and was inhuman. This event has also caused various injuries to the participants and sometimes has claimed lives of the people. PETA had been protesting against the sport since 2004 and finally the Supreme Court of India passed a verdict banning the festival in 2014.

Thondaman also stressed about the Bull’s significance in the Indian Flag.

The Ashoka Lion Capital of Sarnath comprises four lions, standing back to back, mounted on a cylindrical abacus. The abacus features the sculptures of an elephant, a galloping horse, a bull, and a lion, separated by intervening 24-spoked Dharma wheels over an inverted bell-shaped lotus flower (National Flower of India).


Lion Capital atop Bangalore Parliament


The four animals in the Lion Capital are believed to symbolise different phases in Lord Buddha’s life. The Elephant is a representation of Queen Maya’s conception of Buddha when she saw a white elephant entering her womb in a dream. The Bull represents desire during the life of the Buddha as a prince. The Horse symbolises Buddha’s departure from palatial life. The Lion represents the attainment of Nirvana by Lord Buddha.

There are also non-religious symbolic interpretations of the Lion Capital believing the four lions symbolise Ashoka’s rule over the four directions, the wheels as symbols of his enlightened rule and the four animals as symbols of four adjoining territories of India.

The Sarnath pillar still stands in its original place; however the Ashoka Lion Capital has been moved to the Sarnath Museum for preservation.

2 Comments for “Thonda’s Bulls Travel In Luxury While His People Suffer”

  1. Gobba

    I wonder if ALL BULLS involved in Jallikattu are transported in air conditioned comfort and swim around in Swimming pools !!!!! Baiyya stories for the Baiyyas

  2. Talk about raking the bull by the horns. He belongs to the horny types. How did they get super rich. Most of their wealth is invested in India. How did they get it across. Annimal rights organisations, take note.

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