As a record 399 bulls, all dressed for the occasion with their horns painted in different colours, charged wildly into the game-play area one after another, nearly 650 bull tamers vied for the day’s honours to seize the bulls by their hump and run a certain distance as proof of having subdued them.
While several bull-tamers were badly bruised trying to rein in the bulls on the run, the six seriously injured were rushed to Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai, sources at Alanganallur said.
Among those admitted to hospital, three persons were spectators who were knocked down by some bulls when speeding out of the arena.
After customary “poojas” to the local village deity, Muniyandisami, the festivities were flagged off by Union Fertiliser Minister M K Azhagiri. The bull-taming in batches, went on till about 4 pm.
The Madurai District authorities took care to abide by the Supreme Court guidelines in regulating the event and hence the casualty was lower this year, the sources said.
The regulatory measures included double barricading of the play area so that spectators do not jump in frenzy along with the bull-tamers.
Veterinary doctors also examine the bulls before play to ensure that they were not high on any intoxicants fled by the bull owners, particularly when the prize-money stakes are high at Alanganallur.
The bull-tamers are also given uniforms for the event to easily mark them out from the rest that facilitates easy removal in case of injuries, sources said, adding there was no major untoward incident on Saturday.
The bulls’ horns are blunted as a safety measure, even as tamers are prohibited from carrying any weapons. The apex court had lifted the blanket ban on “jallikattu”, while imposing strict conditions. These are overseen by representatives of the Animal Welfare Board of India. Scores of others have also been injured in this rural sport in other districts as well.