Bull Fighting in the 1890s (Post No.3523)

Compiled by London swaminathan


Date: 7 January 2017


Time uploaded in London:-  20-41


Post No.3523



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“There are several other kinds of amusement, some of them of a vulgar character, Bull fighting is one of them.

The bull fighting must not be regarded as like the familiar bull-fighting in Spain, or any other western country. This fight is called ‘sallikattoo’, and takes place during the day.


A large plain is chosen for the purpose and the villagers collect money among themselves with which to meet the necessary expenditure. They send out invitations to the people of other villages and inform them of the fixed day for bull-fight. This news spreads abroad among all classes of the people who come in numbers in bands and parties, both men and women to the spot appointed. The people of the village who have arranged the bull fight erect temporary sheds at their own cost in order to accommodate their visitors. As it is a public meeting place, the sellers of various articles flock to it with their different kinds of goods.

At about eight O clock in the morning all assemble in the plain. Sometimes there are thousands of people met on such occasions. Several fighting bulls will be brought by the villagers from different districts. The owner of each bull ties a new cloth around its neck. In  some cases the owner puts money in a corner of the cloth. He takes the bull to the headman of the assembly and bows his head to him. Then the headman inquiries concerning the parentage and name if he does not happen to know him. Then be asks the herald or the crier to beat his drum three times. This is a sign for the people to understand that a fighting bull will be let loose in the midst of the assembly. This is a signal also to the men who have come to fight the bull, and take the cloth and the money its neck that they must hold themselves in readiness. The owner of the bull takes him to the centre of the assembly, and there be lets him loose by warning the bult to take cate of and to make his way through the crowd to his shed.


As soon as ever the bull is set free, ten or fifteen men come to the front of the assembly without either stick or knife, and they face the bull manfully. Some of the clever bulls defend themselves hours together, hurting many of those men, and sometimes killing one or two; at last they escape from their hands and go home, leaping and frisking for joy. There are many bulls who are known to be great fighters and who allow anyone to take the cloths from their necks. Whoever takes the cloth considered to be a is hero. The bullocks are brought in to fight, one after another, the whole day through, and sometimes this terrible struggle between man and beast will be continued for two or three days. Some of the owners of the bulls offer a large sum of money to anyone who can arrest their bulls before the assembly.


These beasts are very knowing and clever in their fighting; they stand quietly before the assembly, and do not run or jump but if anyone approaches them, they hit him with their horns or legs as quickly as a flash of lightning. The people who come to witness the fight occupy the ground for half a mile in a crescent form. Some will sit and some will stand, just as they may please, and most of them will be exposed to the wind and the sun; but this they consider as nothing compared with the pleasure they derive from watching the bull-fight. The public do not pay a penny on occasions of this kind.



Kurathi- Tamil Soothsayer and Bull Fighting Floats in Tamil Procession (Post No.3430)

Compiled by London swaminathan


Date: 8 December 2016


Time uploaded in London: 13-28


Post No.3430



Pictures are taken from different sources; thanks.


contact; swami_48@yahoo.com



Following are the floats (tableaus) in the Fifth World Tamil Conference held in Madurai in 1981

Kuravanchi is a conventional form of Tamil poetry which blends together some of the ways of life of the elites with those of the hunters. Tirukuta  Rasappa Kavirayar, a Tamil poet from Melakaram, near Tenkasi in Thirunelveli District, has composed Kutralakkuravanchi which is considered to be the supreme example of this genre of Tamil poetry.


It portrays Lord Siva coming in procession accompanied by his devotees against the background of the natural tapestries of the captivating hills of Courtallam, its flora and fauna and its beautiful waterfalls. With its excellent rhythmic beauty, sensuous style, flexible and tender poetic diction it also depicts the heroine Vasantha Valli falling in love with Lord Siva. She is so captivated by the charms of the handsome Lord that she suffers from insomnia and mental agony which a girl faces due to the pangs of separation from her lover. At this juncture, a woman soothsayer from the hunter’s tribe of Courtallam arrives there singing the beauty of Courtallam and the transcendental glory of the Lord. The words of the foreteller console Vasanthavalli and give her the hope of marrying the Lord. This tableau depicts the foretelling of the soothsayer.





The ancient Tamils have classified the landscape into five divisions namely Kurinchi (Hilly region), Mullai (Pastoral), Marutam (Plain), Neytal (Coastal region) and Palai (Wilderness). While dealing with the poetic conventions of the love poems, they have assigned the Mutarporul (i.e. time and space), Karupporul (i.e. the flora and fauna) as well the Uripporul (i.e. the human drama which forms the poetic theme) for each division of lands. This tableau depicts an event wh ich normally happens in the ancient Kurinchi poems. In the human drama of love, Kurinchi depicts love at first sight. Eventhough the damsel is anxious to embrace the hero, out of her feminine quality namely “nanam” (shyness), she feels reluctant to come near the hero. At this juncture, a ferocious tiger comes on the spot. The fear of the tiger makes her cast away her shyness. Without any second thought she takes refuge in the broad chest of the hero, who protects her and drives away the tiger by his arrow.



Bull fight is one of the heroic sports of the Tamils and has its origin in a very hoary past. In Mullaikkali of Sankam anthology we come across some instances of the hero grappling with a bull and conquering it as a test of bravery. The damsels of the ancient Tamil pastoral used to bring up wild bulls. They were given in marriage to the suitors who successfully conquered their bulls.


According to Mullaikkali, the girl of the pastoral land would not even think of the defeated man as her husband in anyone of her various births. This scene depicts a hero who tries to conquer the bull and a heroine who waits anxiously to garland him after his victory. This sport is in vogue in many parts of Tamilnadu, especially in some parts of Madurai as a sport under the popular name Manchu Virattu.



Thiruvalluvar, who glorified agriculture describes a heroic battle in one of his couplets as: “At elephant heads his lance, for weapon pressed He laughs and plucks the spear from his breast be Slaying the elephant in the battle is considered to a supreme kind of heroism by the Tamils. A hero who was nurtured in this heroic tradition fought with an elephant in a battle. He threw his lance on the frenzied elephant which fought fiercely with him. The elephant fell down. When he turned with pride, the victorious hero was hit by the spear of an enemy. At the same time, an elephant also attacked him. Finding no lance ready with him to attack the elephant, he removed the spear which had pierced into his body to throw it on the enemy elephant. Removing the spear, he gloats over the fact that he has a weapon to fight the elephant. Tirukkural describes this thrilling episode and the tableau depicts it.