“People think that women are weak and cannot participate. Most of us have fought and come. Why should we be held back?"

Were here to fight protect our culture Women protesters on third day of jallikattu agitation
news Jallikattu Thursday, January 19, 2017 - 12:08

As protests against the ban on jallikattu enter day three, the sense of rebellion among the agitators remains strong. Young faces are aplenty on Marina beach as thousands continue to pour in, even as the sun shines directly over and there’s little shade in sight.

The youngsters are mostly men from colleges and young professionals, but look closer, and among them are young women too.

Dhanalaxmi, a 35-year-old housewife, says she dropped off her children to school and then came to join the protest. She says that women were also joining the protest because they also feel strongly about the issue. “It is not just women, even families and kids are participating. It is because they feel strongly about the issue. This is the beginning a lot more is to come,” she says.

Echoing the mass resentment towards animal rights organisation PETA, Dhanalaxmi says, “Who is PETA? What do they know about jallikattu? It is a 5000 year old tradition. There were thousands of native breeds in the country. Now the numbers have reduced so much that we can count them on our fingers.”

Deepa, a student of MOP Vaishnav college raises questions about the motives behind the ban, contesting that the rationale is protection of animal rights. “Jallikattu is our traditional game but it is banned for the benefit of corporate companies,” she says.

Many other women like Deepa and Dhanalaxmi sit together with the crowd, joining in actively when they chant slogans. A few of them help the volunteers distribute water packets and food. The women are lesser in number, but no less angry with what they deem as an attack on Tamil culture.

Vidya, a 20-year-old college student says: “People think that women are weak and cannot participate but most of us have fought and come. We also want to be part of this protest. Why should we be held back?"

Disha, a college student, has come to join the protests from Ashok Nagar. “This is about Tamilians and practicing jallikattu is our cultural right. We don’t want our culture to die. If we youngsters protest, we can set an example for others. We are awaiting Modi’s decision,” she says.

There has been a sense of anticipation among the protesters that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and Prime Minister Modi will chalk out a solution at their meeting on Thursday. However, the possibility of an ordinance looks bleaker with the PM saying that the matter is still sub-judice in the Supreme Court.

Protesters seem undettered by this outcome however, and say that protests will continue. Sandhya, a college student says that they will fight until they "get justice from the Supreme Court." 

Many women also emphasise that their participation in the protest should not be made a big deal of and that the focus must remain on the cause: the fight to protect Tamil culture.

“I am here for Tamil culture and tradition. There should not be any bias, we can't say women or men protesters. Everyone should come here because they believe in the cause not because they are forced to,” says Krithika, a media professional from Ambattur.

(With inputs from Geetika Mantri)