It’s jallikattu time again in Tamil Nadu—a time to play the bull taming sport that has been in vogue for centuries in this part of the world. The first such event of this year was held on January 8 in Thachankuruchi in Pudukkottai district. Nearly 400 bull tamers tried their luck at holding on to bulls for a specified short period of time. Some 300 bulls were let out into an open ground, one after the other. Bull taming events go on in other parts of Tamil Nadu even after Pongal celebrations have ended.
Although confined at one time to south Tamil Nadu, after the ban on jallikattu was lifted in January 2017 via a legislative action, the sport, which enjoys wide support among the people across the State, began to be organised during the Pongal celebration time in many districts.
The big three events were held this year during the Pongal festival days: at Palamedu, Avaniyapuram, and Alanganallur. Several youngsters tried to tame the bulls; a few died, and scores more were injured. In Pudukkottai, two spectators were gored to death on January 17, and 140 were injured during the event; in Madurai, two people were killed on January 16 and another 120 injured. In Alanganallur, 10 people were treated for minor injuries.
In many of these venues, spectators were seen flouting rules, according to eyewitness reports. Typically, spectators climbed on to higher platforms, or nearby structures, including houses, to get a better view. It is often difficult for the the district administration to enforce restrictions because the regulators are outnumbered by the people who come to watch the sport.
The event has its rewards too. For instance, Tamil Nadu’s Commercial Taxes Minister P. Moorthy tweeted on January 17 that he had handed over a Nissan car to the person who tamed the maximum number of bulls. Similarly, in the Avaniyapuram jallikattu on January 15, Vijay from Jaihindpuram, who tamed 28 bulls, was awarded a car.