Tamil Nadu

Transwoman and her three bulls aim for Alanganallur’s jallikattu arena

Chintamani earns ₹300 a day, but spends ₹10,000 a month on feed for her bulls. G. Moorthy

Chintamani earns ₹300 a day, but spends ₹10,000 a month on feed for her bulls. G. Moorthy  

Rejected by family, Chintamani found refuge in rearing bulls for the sport

“I am Chintamani. Vinoth in my former life. This is my child, Ramu,” says the 30-year-old transwoman, tugging at her large jallikattu bull.

A resident of Kallanai in Alanganallur Panchayat, Chintamani says she endured physical and mental abuse from her family, villagers and common folk for years, until she found refuge in rearing bulls for jallikattu. “This is where I got the nickname Veera Tamilachi and was awarded prizes not simply because my bulls were champions, but also because they accepted me. I realised that I had finally found a safe space,” she says.

Chintamani, who studied till Class VI, says she has always been interested in rearing cows and bulls. She stopped her education because there wasn’t any major pressure on her to study. In animals, she found love and friendship. “As a resident of Alanganallur, it would be impossible to escape the jallikattu craze. I used to love watching the game every year, but unfortunately had to give it up and move out because my family refused to let me live at home,” she recalls.


Endured abuse

She says she was physically and verbally abused “several hundred times” by her family and relatives due to her identity. Since she was unable to find acceptance within her family, she moved out, and took to begging. “It was disgusting to beg and see men leering and passing comments at me, asking me to spend a night with them. Good samaritans helped me escape my past and gave me some money, food and shelter. I still consider them as Gods,” she says. In 2017, when the jallikattu protests gripped Tamil Nadu and she was still looking for a way to survive, Chintamani says she gathered all her savings to buy a bull. “I have always loved the graceful stride of bull owners at the vadivasal (entrance to the jallikattu arena) and the celebrations that ensued when they brought their vans to the village. I decided to jump right in and purchase a bull. Though it was a temple bull, it fought well,” she says.

Since then, she has expanded her family to accommodate three bulls — Ramu, Lakshmi and Karuppu. She goes for a walk with them every morning and trains them to swim three days a week.

She earns ₹300 a day working at a panipuri shop in Alanganallur, but spends ₹10,000 a month on feed for the bulls. “The prize money of the bulls also goes towards feeding them,” she says.

Her prize-winning bulls have earned gold coins, vessels and cookers at jallikattu events in Sakkudi, Vellalur and Palamedu. “My aim is to release my bulls into the arena of the world-renowned jallikattu event (in Alanganallur). It will be the highest honour,” she says.

She says in recent years, her family has come around, but does not allow her to wear a saree, though she wishes to do so. “At least I have pierced my ears and grown my hair. Everything is calm and peaceful now,” she adds.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 9:28:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/transwoman-and-her-three-bulls-aim-for-alanganallurs-jallikattu-arena/article30428141.ece

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