In the Southern Indian ‘State of Tamil Nadu’, the traditional Jallikattu sport involving young men competing against bulls is described as one of the ancient living sports in the modern era. Based on petitions by animal rights groups, the Supreme Court of India banned the ancient sport of Jallikattu in 2014 on the grounds of animal cruelty. The ban of this traditional sport ignited protests culminating in a large-scale 15-day movement across the state from January 8 to 23, 2017 with a massive mobilization on the world’s second longest beach, the Marina in the state capital of Chennai. Largely propelled by the youths, the ban was perceived as an attack on Tamil culture and identity. The anger was directed at foreign animal rights activism and an unstable political situation gained momentum with media attention. This resulted in the promulgation of a central Act to overturn the ban and facilitate conduct of the sport. This paper examines the role of social media rallying the public and activism against the Jallikattu ban. The paper examines how the platform of social media provided a means to mobilize effectively an affective public and a means to construct Tamil pride and identity through the ban of this bull sport.
Key words: Jallikattu, bullfight, social media, tradition, Tamil culture.
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