BOSTON– How do you mobilize 600 Tamilians in Boston in less than a week? The answer is simple: Rally them behind a popular cause. It all started with Ramesh Kumar, a Malden, MA-resident who was following news back at home, especially the 2017 pro-Jallikattu protests, also known as the pro-Jallikattu movement. (Photos: Krish Velmurugan and Raju)
The march for bull taming sport, or Jallikattu, was a movement with numerous leaderless apolitical youth groups protesting in large numbers in several locations across the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, with some sporadic smaller protests taking place across India, as well as overseas. These concerns led Kumar, a vice president at Boston-based State Street Bank, to start a Facebook page to embrace the spirit and extend support on this cause.
“I created the Facebook page for Boston Support Jallikattu on last Thursday (Jan. 19) and invited many of our known friends and friends of friends to join the page,” Kumar told INDIA New England News via email.
His Facebook message was crisp and swift: “There is no doubt that the culture of the Tamils belongs to the great and immortal treasures of the world’s civilization. Living miles away from our land and soil . Let us all join hands together to support this cause and show our spirits in and out that we are with them ..with every volunteer ., every supporter .. every farmer .. Every individual with selfless thoughts .!!”
What happened after that?
“We got a tremendous amount of support for this page from all over the New England and people share and liked the page since it got launched and it spread by word of mouth,” Kumar said. “Hundreds of New England Tamil and non-Tamil volunteers, individuals came together to highlight Jallikattu not only as part of our culture and identity, but also to preserve the native breeds and protect the farmers.”
He said Jallikattu is the cultural symbol of Tamil Nadu and its pride.
“Jallikattu is not the only game that portrays the bravery of Tamil people; it also protects our Indian cattle breeds too. Imposing a law against the popular sentiments of a particular state can never be a binding factor,” Kumar said. “We abide by the regulations of this country as a citizen of this country, but never at the cost of our cultural identity. Jallikkattu has evoked an unprecedented upsurge among youngsters, students and common people in Tamil Nadu and all over the world in millions and more.”
Kumar said that after the creation of the Facebook page, a group volunteers such as Suresh Chinnapan, Karthick Subharam, Indra Anand , JayHari and Mohan Raj created Whatzapp group.
“We also joined hands with many other organization in New England area who wanted to be identified only as individual Tamils vs any particular organization. We got a tremendous amount of support in our whatzapp group, people from all over New England area joined the group and there was lot of likes and messages in Facebook group,” Kumar said.
They formed a volunteer group that included Kumar, Karthikeyan Ramu, Suresh Chinnapan, Karthick Subharam, Indra Anand , JayHari, Mohan Raj and Tamil Arasan, and held a conference call to discuss the norms, rules and regulation for the Boston Support Jallikattu Protest.
“We also discussed about time and venue. Invitations were created and sent out. Counts increased to about 200 in 24 hours. People watching the update on the Facebook event page and evite, sent calls pretty much every 5 minutes from various people asking for help, more details,” Kumar said. “They really want to show the mass and our great support in Boston. Big banners were printed overnight… and posters were all ready.”
And then came Sunday, Jan. 22nd.Hundreds of New England volunteers, families, kids gathered together at the Boston commons and in front of state house with legal permission obtained.
“The chief motivation is against the Supreme Court’s order to ban Jallikattu (occasionally also known as sallikattu, eru taluval, or manju virattu), a Tamil traditional bull taming sport, which is held during Pongal, a harvest festival in the state of Tamil Nadu, India,” Kumar said. “It was also to focus on the rights of farmers, to save the native breeds, awareness on A1 and A2 milk grades . What started as just 50 volunteers and individuals ended to be 550 plus people in just 48 hours. It was really a memorable day for all of us living away.”