Jallikattu is hugely popular in at least four southern districts of Tamil Nadu.
There were celebrations in Tamil Nadu's Madurai district on Friday after the Central government paved the way for lifting the ban on Jallikattu through a notification, despite the Supreme Court ban on the traditional Pongal sport of taming the bull. People burst crackers and distributed sweets in the hope the event could resume during the upcoming Pongal season, next week.
Animal rights activists are, however, angry and disappointed. The Animal Welfare Board of India, which had opposed lifting the ban, is likely to challenge the Centre's move. Many allege the BJP government buckled under pressure from its state unit ahead of assembly polls, due in five months.
Though Jallikattu is not a key poll issue, over the last few months Tamil Nadu witnessed competitive politics for its resumption. Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and many other political leaders demanded an ordinance. In her letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ms Jayalalithaa claimed credit for the move and said holding Jallikattu would "uphold traditional values and preserve the traditional bull breed."
Jallikattu is hugely popular in at least four southern districts of Tamil Nadu. Over the last few decades, more than 200 people have been gored to death by bulls. Last year, the event did not take place due to the court ban. But with elections due in five months, all political parties had demanded that the ban should be lifted. Though the BJP has negligible presence in Tamil Nadu, many say this was seen an opportunity to earn a toehold in assembly elections.
"So even if the Supreme Court stays this, later the BJP could claim that we did our bit but the courts stopped," GC Shekar, Associate Editor, The Telegraph said.
Animal rights activists say the Centre's move is illegal and even revised guidelines for Jallikattu would not spare bulls from torture and trauma. They have also started an online petition to mobilise public opinion against Jallikattu.
"The court banned it only after seeing voluminous evidence of all forms of cruelty from pulling them by tail, intoxicating them, beating them, applying chilli powder on their genitals, there's no end," said animal rights activist Dr Chinny Krishna, who's also the Vice Chairman of Animal Welfare Board of India.
With elections due, vote bank politics seems to have won against animal rights at the moment. But with Pongal festival still a week away there could be legal intervention. Both sides are keeping their fingers crossed.