Madurai: The bull-taming sport of Jallikattu saw a revival in Tamil Nadu on Thursday with great fanfare as part of Pongal festivities that began on 15 January. At the bustling hamlet of Alanganallur near here, a popular venue for the sport, 800 bull tamers pitted their skills against 900 bulls.
Several hundreds of spectators cheered the participants. Gifts worth lakhs of rupees were given to those who succeeded in taming the bulls and bull owners whose animals could not be tamed.
Jallikattu was held also at several other locations including Avarangadu in Tiruchirappalli, Pudukottai, Karur and Dindigul.
While many bull tamers were injured in the process, as the police say, the injuries hardly tamed the festivities.
Other rural sporting events like bullock cart rallies were also held in several villages. Several events centred on rural sports and folk arts were held across Tamil Nadu by the tourism department as part of the Pongal celebrations.
At Coimbatore, traditional village dances like ‘Oyilattam’ were conducted and heritage musical instruments were played so that people could get to have a glimpse of those used in bygone eras.
Jallikattu had already been conducted at Palamedu (Madurai) and Periya Suriyoor (Tiruchirappalli), famous for the bull-taming sport, on Wednesday and at Avaniapuram (Madurai) on Tuesday, coinciding with the Pongal festival.
Over 800 bull tamers took part while more than 700 bulls were used. About 100 youths and some spectators were injured in these events, police said.
The successful bull tamers and owners of bulls that could not be reined in were showered with prizes like motorcycles (the best tamer prize) and car (for the best bull) in the events.
Usually, temple bulls are first sent through the Vaadi Vasal, the entrance to the sporting arena, as part of prayers for a good harvest and prosperity and in keeping with tradition such animals are not caught by the tamers.