FAQ on Jallikattu, Bull Races and PETA India

Posted on by PETA

We’ve received many inquiries from Facebook and Twitter followers lately, so this blog post aims to answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

Why is PETA India against jallikattu, bull races and other such events?

Jallikattu exploits bulls’ natural nervousness as prey animals by deliberately placing them in a terrifying situation in which they are forced to run away from those they perceive as predators. As PETA India has documented in Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI)–authorised inspections, the bulls become so frightened by the mob of men who participate that they slip, fall, run into barriers and traffic – and even jump off cliffs in their desperate attempts to escape – frequently leading to broken bones or death.

As can be seen in the documentation, jallikattu participants purposely disorient the bulls by forcing them to consume alcohol; twist and bite their tails; stab and jab them with sickles, spears, knives and sticks; cause them intense pain by yanking their nose ropes; and punch them, jump on them and drag them to the ground.

PETA India has also documented that during races, bulls run because people hurt them. They’re hit with everything from bare hands to nail-studded sticks, and their tailbones are broken at each joint. This is as painful to the bulls as it would be to us if someone were to break our fingers joint by joint.

In bullfights, the round ends when one of the frightened and injured bulls manages to flee – or is killed.

Participants and spectators are also at risk. From 2010 to 2014, media outlets reported that there were some 1,100 human injuries and 17 deaths caused by jallikattu-style events, including the death of a child. The actual number is probably higher since many injuries likely weren’t reported in the news.

Why has PETA India targeted only jallikattu?

We are targeting all cruelty to animals, not just jallikattu. A 7 July 2011 notification in The Gazette of India made using bulls as performing animals illegal. This applies to jallikattu, kambala, bull races, bullfights and other uses of bulls for performances.

In its 7 May 2014 judgement, the Honourable Supreme Court confirmed this ban on the use of bulls for performances. The court also ruled that cruelty is inherent in these events, as bulls are not anatomically suited to them. It observed that forcing bulls to participate subjects them to unnecessary pain and suffering, so it ruled that such races are not permitted by law.

Jallikattu, bull races and other similar events also violate the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960. This means the causing of unnecessary suffering to bulls which is inherent in these events has been illegal for 56 years.

Section 77 of the 7 May 2014 Supreme Court judgement says, “77. We, therefore, hold that AWBI is right in its stand that Jallikattu, Bullock-cart Race and such events per se violate

Sections 3, 11(1)(a) and 11(1)(m)(ii) of PCA Act and hence we uphold the notification dated 11.7.2011 issued by the Central Government, consequently, Bulls cannot be used as performing animals, either for the Jallikattu events or Bullock-cart Races in the

State of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra or elsewhere in the country”.

Section 3, 11(1)(a) of the PCA Act, 1960, makes it illegal if any person “beats, kicks, over-rides, over-drives, over-loads, tortures or otherwise treats any animal so as to subject it to unnecessary pain or suffering or causes, or being the owner permits, any animal to be so treated”. Section 11(1)(m)(ii) of the PCA Act, 1960, makes it illegal if any person “confines or causes to be confined any animal (including tying of an animal as a bait in a tiger or other sanctuary) so as to make it an object or prey for any other animal”.

The Supreme Court clarified, “Fight can be with an animal or a human being”. Its order said, “Section 5 of TNRJ Act envisages a fight between a Bull and Bull tamers, that is, Bull tamer

has to fight with the bull and tame it. Such fight is prohibited under Section 11(1)(m)(ii) of PCA Act read with Section 3 of the Act”.

The Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu (TNRJ) Act was struck down by the Supreme Court because it was “inconsistent and in direct collision with Section 3, Section 11(1)(a), 11(1)(m)(ii) and Section 22 of the PCA Act read with Articles 51A(g) & (h) of the Constitution and hence repugnant to the PCA Act”.

Furthermore, Section 429 of the Indian Penal Code reads, “429. Mischief by killing or maiming cattle, etc., of any value or any animal of the value of fifty rupees.—Whoever commits mis­chief by killing, poisoning, maiming or rendering useless, any elephant, camel, horse, mule, buffalo, bull, cow or ox, whatever may be the value thereof, or any other animal of the value of fifty rupees or upwards, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both”.

What about the argument that jallikattu should be allowed because it’s part of India’s culture or tradition or has religious significance?

Countless Tamilian PETA India supporters are against jallikattu and are saddened by those who call harming bulls Tamil “culture”. India’s culture is one of kindness, not cruelty. Article 51A(g) of the Indian Constitution makes it the mandate of every Indian citizen “to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures”.

Section 42 of the 7 May 2014 Supreme Court judgement says, “The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the TNRJ Act refers to ancient culture and tradition and does not state that it has any religious significance. Even the ancient culture and tradition do not support the conduct of Jallikattu or Bullock cart race, in the form in which they are being conducted at present. Welfare and the well-being of the bull is Tamil culture and tradition, they do not

approve of infliction of any pain or suffering on the bulls, on the other hand, Tamil tradition and culture are to worship the bull and the bull is always considered as the vehicle of Lord Shiva. Yeru Thazhuvu, in Tamil tradition, is to embrace bulls and not overpowering

the bull, to show human bravery”. It concluded, “Jallikattu or the bullock cart race, as practised now, has never been the tradition or culture of Tamil Nadu”.

Section 43 of the same judgement reads, “PCA Act, a welfare legislation, in our view, over-shadows or overrides the so-called tradition and culture. Jallikattu and Bullock

cart races, the manner in which they are conducted, have no support of Tamil tradition or culture. Assuming, it has been in vogue for quite some time, in our view, the same should give way to the welfare legislation, like the PCA Act which has been enacted to prevent infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals and confer duties and obligations on persons in-charge of animals”.

In any case, history is simply never a good excuse for continuing abuse, and we have the ability to have independent thought, demonstrate empathy and apply reason to make autonomous decisions. For example, many people who grew up in meat-eating cultures have chosen to eat vegan after learning how animals suffer in the production of meat, eggs and dairy foods. We can choose how to live our lives and to celebrate holidays in ways which cause others no harm. We do not need to have our actions dictated by society or what happened in the past, especially if conforming to traditional norms would mean abusing another living, breathing, thinking individual.

Furthermore, Hindus commonly worship bulls in temples honouring Lord Shiva by gently touching the forehead of Nandi’s idol. If some miscreants were to enter Lord Shiva’s temple and desecrate Nandi’s idol, people would not stand for it. Then why support abuse of real-life bulls of Lord Shiva?

Some say if bulls are not used for jallikattu, they will be sold to slaughter.

The Indian Express reported in a 12 January article titled “Explained: In Jallikattu, Questions of Tradition and Cruelty to Animals” that “no tickets are sold for Jallikattu or bullock-cart races”. It further states, “Jallikattu events do not offer any major monetary benefits, and prizes are mostly a dhoti, towel, betel leaves, bananas and token cash – that is rarely more than Rs 101 – on a silver plate. Mixer-grinders, refrigerators and furniture have been added to the list of prizes at some events over the last few years”.

If there’s essentially no monetary benefit to the farmer and no tickets are sold, then the farmers aren’t financially worse off with a ban on jallikattu and should have no increased incentive to sell their bulls to slaughter.

The Times of India quoted Dhana Kumar, a resident of Manickampatti near Palamedu in Madurai district, as saying, “I have two children, but I love my bull Karuppasamy more. I have caned my children, but not my bull. Usually the jallikattu bulls are pledged to God and we consider them sacred”. If the bulls are considered sacred, surely selling them to slaughter shouldn’t even be considered.

Slaughter isn’t the only suffering that the bulls face. There are many different types of cruelty, and they’re all wrong to commit. However, although they shouldn’t be, bulls do end up at the slaughterhouse when they are injured in training or during jallikattu – which happens often – or when they’re deemed no longer useful. Bulls have also died during the events themselves, including this one who ran directly into a bus in his panic.

Some say banning jallikattu will eliminate native breeds of cattle.

Cattle breeds in India have been changing for many years because of a variety of factors, even during the decades when jallikattu was allowed, so to claim this change is primarily a result of banning jallikattu is preposterous. Cattle breeds are largely manipulated by humans to suit their own “needs” – such as increased milk production. Changes in breed don’t mean the extinction of a species. Domesticated cattle are not at risk of being on the endangered species list.

It’s said by those who make this argument that “stud bulls” are reared by people for jallikattu. The ones who win jallikattu are in greater demand for impregnating cows. However, an end to jallikattu does not stop bulls from being used for this purpose. It’s said that small farmers can’t afford to keep stud bulls, so each village has a common temple bull who is used for impregnating the cows of the village. However, since there’s essentially no monetary benefit from jallikattu, this can still continue. In addition, a veterinarian would be able to inform villagers which bull is healthy much better than the outcome of a jallikattu event could.

Furthermore, while some bulls are used for jallikattu, others are used as draught animals in transport and farming – a practice which could easily continue without jallikattu.

The community can come up with ways that genuinely honour these bulls and that keep the animals in their lives without the cruelty that’s been deemed unacceptable by the Supreme Court.

I’ve heard that PETA India paid crores of rupees to a lawyer to fight the case in the Supreme Court. Is that true?

No. PETA India uses top lawyers who work for us on a pro-bono basis – or at a significantly reduced cost – for various cases. We don’t have crores to spend on a lawyer. We’re a non-profit organisation.

 I’ve heard rumours that PETA India simply wants to promote foreign breeds of cattle. Is that true?

What a complicated, bizarre, inept plan it would be if it were true!

PETA India is an animal rights organisation, and our motto is, in part, “animals are not ours to eat”. We advocate a vegan lifestyle, which means we have no interest in promoting foreign breeds of cattle for meat or dairy production, and in fact, we actively campaign against the meat and dairy industries because of their inherent cruelty.

Why doesn’t PETA India focus on some other issue instead?

We focus on many issues, but cruelty to bulls for events like jallikattu, bull races and bullfighting is serious and cannot be ignored.

Why doesn’t PETA India ban slaughterhouses?

PETA India doesn’t have that power, and the courts can only uphold existing laws.

PETA India currently has a case in the Supreme Court with state governments as respondents alleging that unlawful cruelty is common in the transport and slaughter of animals. The court has urged all states to crack down on unlicensed slaughterhouses as a result and to form law-enforcement committees.

That said, even if laws were enforced, they still permit most animals to be killed. That’s why we encourage the public to help stop the slaughter of animals by going vegan, including by refusing to wear leather. We also provide a free vegan starter kit to help people transition to eating vegan.

Does PETA India support the beef ban?

Yes, and we encourage others to support it, too, but we feel it’s incomplete as it doesn’t include buffaloes, address the source of where slaughterhouses get much of their cattle (the dairy industry) or address the leather industry. In addition, illegal, unlicensed slaughterhouses still exist largely unabated.

Read what PETA India CEO Poorva Joshipura had to say about the beef ban when it came out in Maharashtra.

What about the cruelty of milk production?

PETA India has conducted numerous investigations to highlight the horrors of the dairy industry and encourages the public to try going vegan. Here are some plant-based milks for those who still want the creamy taste.

But India is the world’s top beef exporter. Isn’t this alarming?

Yes. India is the world’s largest producer of milk, which also explains why it’s the world’s largest beef exporter and has a substantial veal industry. If you want no part in supporting the beef industry, go dairy-free. Learn more about this connection here.

Why doesn’t PETA call for a ban on animal sacrifice, such as during Eid?

All religions call for compassion, and no religion requires meat-eating.

The Indian Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughter House) Rules, 2001, already states that “animals [are] not to be slaughtered except in recognised or licensed houses”.

This means that anyone who learns about slaughter that is to take place outside of a licensed slaughterhouse can report it to the police.

In 2010 and 2011, the High Court of Uttarakhand deliberated on a public-interest litigation aimed at banning animal sacrifice. The court concluded that “in view of the law made, despite there being [an] old tradition of sacrificing animals to appease deities, no such sacrifice is permissible outside a slaughterhouse”.

This court made an exception for rural areas, where licensed slaughterhouses may not exist, but clarified that there, “it is obligatory on the part of the State to ensure that such destruction/killing/sacrifice is for the purpose of arranging food for mankind and for no other purpose”. The High Court’s decision paved the way for more legal progress on the subject of animal sacrifice.

In 2014, the High Court of Himachal Pradesh banned animal sacrifice in the state.

In its order, the court observed that “sacrifice causes immense pain and suffering to the innocent animals” and that “compassion is basic tenets in all the religions”. It referred to animal sacrifice as “a social evil” that’s “required to be curbed”.

Here, you can read a letter that the AWBI sent to all states in advance of Eid notifying them of the relevant laws.

Does PETA India do any work to address cruelty to elephants in temples and for Thrissur Pooram?

 Yes. Following an inspection by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) with veterinarians and other inspectors from PETA India, Animal Rahat and Heritage Animal Task Force that revealed apparently illegal conduct and abuse of elephants at the Thrissur Pooram event held in Kerala on 29 and 30 April 2015, the Supreme Court of India directed that no elephants used during poorams (festivals) should be treated with cruelty. If any owner, organiser, festival or temple coordination committee treats elephants cruelly, they will be held liable for contempt of the Supreme Court order. The matter was brought before the Court in an intervention application filed by co-opted member of the AWBI Gauri Maulekhi.

Here’s the heartwarming story of an elephant we rescued from living a life in chains in a temple.

What about horse racing? Isn’t that wrong, too?

Yes, it absolutely is. See why here.

What about animals killed for KFC and other multinational companies?

Please visit the links below:



What about camel slaughter?

The Food Safety and Standards Act prohibits the slaughter of camels in India. If anyone hears about instances of camel slaughter, they can report it to the police. You can read the letter from the AWBI regarding this matter here.

Why doesn’t PETA India do anything about bullfighting in Spain?

In India, bullfighting is banned under the same laws and Supreme Court judgement as jallikattu.

PETA India’s main regional focus is South Asia, but there are many groups, including our UK and US affiliates, which are working on bullfighting issues, and we support their efforts.

Towns in Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, France and Portugal have declared themselves to be against bullfighting, and Catalonia, a region in Spain, has banned it.

How is PETA India funded?

Our supporters are individuals who want to make this world a kinder place for animals. Learn how you too can become a member.

What do you have to say about PETA US?

PETA India and PETA US are separate entities. PETA India is an Indian group.

We encourage you to learn about PETA US’ work through this website. To learn more about its hands-on work with animals, please watch this video.

Should you have any questions about PETA US, we urge you to write to [email protected].


For more information on PETA India, please visit PETAIndia.com.