Madurai: Bull trainers gear up for Jallikattu as Pongal approaches


Madurai (Tamil Nadu) : As the festival of Pongal approaches, bull trainers in Madurai have started to gear up for Jallikattu, the traditional but highly controversial bull-taming sport for which tamers spend months raising bulls.

After the Tamil Nadu government granted permission to hold the sport with certain restrictions last week, the event is set to be held in Madurai and surrounding villages from January 15 to 17.

One of the most popular sites for the sport is the Alanganallur village in Madurai which often receives tourists from all over the world.

The process of registration for the bull will begin 10 days in advance, with medical check-up for both the bulls and Jallikattu cattle players.

Bulls are trained through an intensive process called ‘mann kuthal’, where bulls develop their skills by digging their horns in the wet earth.

Bull trainer Nivathan and his family have been raising five Jallikattu bulls, especially for the festival.

“I take the bulls out to train twice a day, one in the morning, and one in the evening. The festival will be held next week,” Nivathan said.

As per the government’s directive, the number of players cannot be more than 150 at an event and COVID-19 negative certificates have been made mandatory for players. The number of spectators has also been restricted to 50 per cent of the gathering.

The Supreme Court (SC) in 2014 had banned Jallikattu after a plea was filed by the Animal Welfare Board of India and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The state government, however, insisted that Jallikattu was a crucial part of the state’s culture and identity. The ban was later lifted in January 2017 with an amendment to the law after massive protests in Chennai. (ANI)