TN allows conduct of jallikattu with Covid guidelines

Tamil Nadu allows conduct of jallikattu with Covid-19 restrictions

Jallikattu is also known as eru thazhuval (embracing the bull) and has found mention in age-old Tamil literature

A villager is pinned down by a bull as another attempts to control him during Jallikattu. Credit: Reuters file photo.

Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday allowed the conduct of jallikattu (bull-taming sport) during Pongal festivities in January next year by imposing several restrictions, including a cap on the number of participants.

While jallikattu held in three villages -- Alanganallur, Palamedu and Avaniyapuram near the temple town of Madurai – is world-famous, the sport is held in several other places across the state during and after Pongal, which is celebrated on the first day of Tamil month of Thai.

In a statement, the Tamil Nadu government said jallikattu will be allowed to be held with a slew of conditions. Every participant in the sport will have to possess a Covid-19 negative certificate, while spectators and others need to wear face masks.

It said only 300 participants will be allowed in jallikattu events, while the number of spectators will have to be capped at 50 per cent of the total capacity of the ground. “The spectators will be allowed inside the ground only after their body temperature is checked. Those who participate in the festival will have to get tested for Covid-19 from a lab authorised by the government. They need to be Covid negative,” the statement said.

Hundreds of bulls, specially trained for 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 the 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.