Jallikattu turns the spotlight on Madurai

Bulls aggressively stormed into the arena at Avaniyapuram here on Friday, signalling the commencement of the Jallikattu competitions during the Pongal (harvest) festival in the district.

As the bulls rushed from the ‘vaadivasal’ (entry point), a number of youth swarmed around them hoping to clasp their arms around the animal’s hump and ride to victory in the bull-taming competition.

Many participants made unsuccessful attempts to get a firm grip of the hump but the bulls shrugged them off and darted forward. Few men pounced from the side of the animal and clung to the bull’s hump till the finishing point.

This district would witness this traditional sport at Palamedu on Saturday and culminate with the grand finale at Alanganallur on January 17. The event at Alanganallur, a world famous one, is being held on Monday instead of January 16 as a lockdown has been imposed in view of the rise in number of COVID-19 cases in the state.

Though the events are held in other parts of Tamil Nadu, the three successive Jallikattu events in the district are major attractions every year.

The event at Avaniyapuram commenced at around 7.30 AM on Friday and would see about 700 bulls take part by evening. Nearly 300 bull tamers are participating in the event being held with stringent COVID-19 safety precautions and a strong security arrangement by the police. The number of spectators was restricted to 150 owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

At the end of the second round about 14 tamers sustained minor injuries, said police. A medical team present at the venue attended to them.

Earlier, a medical team from the Animal Husbandry department examined the bulls to ascertain if they are fit to participate in the event.

Several sponsors offered attractive prizes including gold coins, mixer, grinder and cooking vessels to encourage the participants.

Commercial Taxes Minister P Moorthy and Finance Minister P T R Palanivel Thiagarajan, flagged off the Jallikattu in the presence of Madurai district collector S Aneesh Sekhar.