running of the bulls
Supreme Court bans running with bulls festival in India. Reuters

The Indian Supreme Court has banned an ancient tradition known as Jallikattu, where young men run with bulls.

In what is being dubbed a "landmark ruling" by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), the court said the running with bulls festival was being banned for its "extreme cruelty" to the animals.

Jallikattu is part of the rice harvest festival of Pongal in southern India, that happens every year in January. It attracts many tourists who travel to the country to watch the event.

Young men grab the bulls by their horns or jump on their backs as the animals run down the road.

Traditionally, it is thought the run is a way for young men to show their bravery, while prizes can be won by those who hang on for a long distance.

Jallikattu takes place every January in southern India. Reuters

Participants must hang on to the bulls as they charge along and many men have been killed as the bulls attempt to shake them off.

Supreme Court Justice K S Radhakrishnan said at the ruling: "All living creatures have inherent dignity and a right to live peacefully.

"The right to dignity and fair treatment is, therefore, not confined to human beings alone, but to animals ... taming of animals for domestic use and taming of animals for exhibition or entertainment are entirely different."

He said the bulls used in the events were subjected to "unmitigated" suffering and "extreme cruelty".

The festival was dubbed 'extremely cruel' by the Supreme Court judge. Reuters

As well as banning Jallikattu, the supreme court also banned bullfighting and bullock cart racing, on grounds of cruelty.

Welcoming the decision, a statement from Peta said: "Peta India has vigorously campaigned against the use of bulls in these cruel events. Its investigators have found that terrified bulls are deliberately disoriented, have their tails twisted and bitten and are stabbed, punched, jumped on, kicked and dragged to the ground.

"During races, bulls are often hit with nail-studded sticks. In bullfights, a round ends when one of the bulls is either killed or manages to flee."

Mimi Bekhechi, Peta UK associate director, added: "The Supreme Court of India has made it clear that senseless cruelty to bulls will no longer be tolerated and that animals deserve our protection and respect. Countries that still permit archaic bull runs and bullfights should take note: tormenting animals for entertainment belongs to the Dark Ages, not the 21st century."