Madurai gears up for Jallikattu, to be broadcast live

Madurai gears up for Jallikattu, to be broadcast live

Youth have been expressing interest in not just watching the sport but also participating in it, said P R Rajasekaran

A villager attempts to control a bull during bull-taming event, Jallikattu in Coimbatore on Sunday. (PTI Photo)

Three villages -- Alanganallur, Palamedu and Avaniyapuram – near the temple town of Madurai will come alive, sporting a colourful look beginning January 15 when the traditional jallikattu (bull-taming sport) kicks off as part of Pongal festivities.

Jallikattu, also known as eru thazhuval (embracing the bull) which has found mention in age-old Tamil literature, will reach the drawing rooms of millions of people across the globe this year with the Madurai District Police deciding to beam it live on YouTube, Facebook and Madurai Kavalan mobile application.

The sport which is inextricably linked to Tamil culture will be conducted in Avaniapuram on January 15, Palamedu (January 16) and Alanganallur (January 17). Alanganallur jallikattu is famous around the world and attracts tourists from across the globe.

Thousands of people in and around Madurai also flock to these villages to watch men tame the bulls – the grounds where the sport is held can accommodate only a few hundred people, prompting the district administration to use technology to restrict crowd at the venue.

“In Alanganallur and Avaniapuram, jallikattu is conducted outside temples in the narrow by-lanes. Only if the crowd is less, the bulls will also be stress-free. Creating a favourable environment for bulls is quite necessary and hence we decided to show these events live,” Madurai District Collector Dr T G Vinay told DH.

Hundreds of bulls, specially trained to participate in jallikattu for months together by its owners who consider them as deities, will be let through the vadivasal (entrance) from where trained men try to tame them – the sport will be conducted for a fortnight across the state from January 15 to 31.

Jallikattu was banned by the Supreme Court but a public agitation by the people of Tamil Nadu on Marina Beach in Chennai forced the Centre to bring in a state-specific amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act in 2017 from when the sport is being held without any issues.

P R Rajasekaran, President of Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Peravai, told DH that youth have been expressing interest in not just watching the sport but also participating in it after the 2017 Marina Uprising.

“This year too we expect more than 700 bulls to participate in jallikattu. The event that starts at 8 am will go on till 4 pm and we have seen renewed interest among youngsters who want to tame the bull. Though we can’t allow everyone, we ensure maximum participation,” he told DH.

To make the sport safer and reduce injuries and casualties, the Madurai District administration has allowed only men from 18 to 45 years of age and weighing more than 45 kgs to participate in the event.

District officials told DH that more than 900 bull-tamers from Madurai alone have been certified to participate in jallikattu. “These people have been put through proper tests and have been certified to participate in the festival. Rules were made strict this year only to make the sport safer for both participants and viewers,” the official said.  

Meanwhile, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court also appointed a committee under a retired district judge to organise and supervise jallikattu events in three villages.

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