Jallikattu – Traditional game of Tamilnadu

Fear is an obscure word in the dictionary of Tamil people. Courage and bravery are infused in their blood. Ordinary things never interest Tamilians, all they need is adventure, thrill and spirit. To show their bravery to the world, even from the alpha of the clan lots of gallantry sports had been practiced. One such ancient valor sport is Jallikattu, which is known by many names such as Erthaluval, Erukol, Manjuviratu, and Madu Pidithal. Eru, Manju, Madu all these three words refer to Ox. This game is exclusively designed to exhibit the pugnacious nature of Tamil oxen and the peerless valor of Tamil men who tame it.
Agriculture is the backbone of any country, everyone toil day and night predominantly for food, and other things comes next. If a nation has enough food to feed its people, then it is one of the safest place to reside in the world. Once such safe haven is Tamilnadu. Agriculture is the culture of Tamilnadu. When we talk about agriculture, it’s not a one man army, it’s a crew where both animals and human work together sharing a brotherhood. One of the inseparable partners in agriculture is cattle, to be particular “the Oxen”. Cattle is the pride of a farmer, and he considers every animal in his farm as his own blood. The rich Tamil culture, says to revere the cattle as God. This is why every cow is worshipped as Goddess Lakshmi and every oxen is revered as God Nandhi. Every Ox, every cock, and every goat is the honor of farmers. How strong and pugnacious these animals are, shows the wealth of a farmer and how well he had feed his animals.


Jallikattu is an adventurous sport of Tamilnadu, and is a part of Pongal celebration. This sport takes place on the eve of MattuPongal (Cow Pongal), in the month of January. This is one of the living ancient sport of Tamilnadu, and which is celebrated with great fervor in the village sides and in Madurai. The ultimate motto of this game is “Fight or Flight”. The native breed of Tamilnadu Kangeyam Ox are bred only for this sport. These oxen are very pugnacious and ferocious by nature. Taming these bulls is not an easy task, it needs skill, power and strength, and so the one who tames these bulls is considered to be the strongest person and is honored with titles.

Selection Process:

Kangeyam Ox is known for Jallikattu, these oxen have a finest and well-built body and is much stronger than other breeds. It is from these herds that calves with good characteristics and body conformation are selected and reared to become jallikattu bulls. These bulls attack not because they are irritated or agitated or frightened, but because that is their basic nature. The calves that are chosen to become jallikattu bulls are fed a nutritious diet so that they develop into strong, sturdy beasts. The bulls are made to swim for exercise. Once the calves reach a particular age, they are taken to small Jallikattu events and are given practice to fight with men.


Sallikattu is now modified as Jallikattu. Salli means coin, it is the custom of Jallikattu, that a coin is tied to the forehead of the bull, which is a reward for the warrior who tames the bull. This sport is been practiced from time immemorial. Even in the oldest form of Tamil Literature speaks of this bravery game. From a literary piece named Kalithogai, it is evident that, people used this sport to select grooms for their daughters. The men who wins the bull, wins the heart of the beautiful women. In other literary works, such as Silapathigaram, Malaipadugadam and Patinapalai, we can see many quotes on Jallikattu. From this literary piece, the origin of this game is slightly exposed. The people of ancient Mulai region (forest), used to conduct this game often to select the clan leader, an efficient warrior and the successor of the reign. Most importantly gorgeous daughters of the clan leaders are married to these gallant heroes. So this game must be in practice from 3000 years above.

Famous Jallikattu locations include:

  • Alanganallur
  • Avaniapuram
  • Tiruvapur near Pudukottai
  • Kondalaampatti, Thammampatti in Salem, Tamil Nadu
  • Palemedu near Madurai
  • Sravayal near Karaikudi
  • Kanduppatti near Sivagangai
  • Venthanpatti near Ponnamaravathy, Pudukottai (Dist)
  • Pallavarayanpatty near Cumbum