Sport of Translation and Untamed Difference
Rajan Kurai Krishnan
VAADIVAASAL/ ARENA by C.S. Chellappa Oxford Novellas, Oxford University Press, 2014, 88 pp., 175
August 2014, volume 38, No 8

With each passing year, the debates in the media are getting fiercer than what happens in the arena of bull sport known as Jallikattu (among several other synonyms like Manji Virattu or Mattu Vedikkai) in Tamil Nadu. The debates are usually between urban animal lovers, SPCA activists, reform minded public figures and a range of bull sport and Tamil cultural enthusiasts. Should the bull sport be allowed to continue or should it be summarily banned? Each year the courts face public interest litigations that either lead to a ban or lifting of the ban or give conditional permission for the sport and so on. While there is considerable merit in the arguments of both sides, there is a pal-pable sense of incomprehension of the priorities of each side. It may be looked at as a typical anthropological challenge deserving a Geertz like theorizing on cultural intel-ligibility. My own limited ethnography makes me believe that what is required is a thoroughly mediated regulation of the sport and certainly not the banning of it.

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