Chennai/Madurai: The Centre's notification allowing jallikattu in Tamil Nadu was on Friday welcomed by political leaders as well as organisers and other stakeholders, with Chief Minister Jayalalithaa thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his 'prompt response' in the matter.
Rural parts of the state especially southern districts, where the bull taming sport is popular during the annual Pongal festivities in mid-January, celebrated the Centre's decision with jallikattu organisers and the sport lovers bursting crackers and distributing sweets.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Jayalalithaa who pursued the matter with him said, "I am very grateful to you for your prompt response in the matter, which has enabled the conduct of Jallikattu."
She said the sport "upholds traditional cultural values and traditions of Tamil Nadu and has great historical significance and also ensures the conservation of native germ plasm and continuance of traditional breeds of indigenous cattle".
DMK President M Karunanidhi said, "I thank the Central government for giving permission for the sport, Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan for his continuous efforts and all others who strove for it."
Earlier in the day, Radhakrishnan, a senior BJP leader from the state, broke the news about the Centre's notification through a tweet and thanked Modi.
Later talking to reporters, Radhakrishnan had a word of caution to the organisers and participants of Jallikattu that efforts should be made to avoid problems during the event.
"...conduct of the event this year would go a long way in ensuring perpetual recurrence of the sport," he said asking the stake-holders to ensure all round safety.
Hailing the development as a "victory for Tamil people," the minister thanked Jayalalithaa, Karunanidhi, DMDK chief Vijayakanth, MDMK leader Vaiko and all other political leaders for their efforts in the matter and termed the Centre's nod as a "joint effort" by all parties and stakeholders.
A Madurai report said jallikattu organisers and the sport lovers in southern districts broke into celebrations and thanked village deities for answering their prayers for conducting the sport, part of Tamil culture.
Residents of various villages, including Alanganallur, a popular destination for jallikattu that attracts a number of foreigners, Avaniapuram and Palamedu welcomed the decision.
Jallikattu, before it was banned, attracted tourists from various parts of the country and abroad, generating revenue and providing livelihood for rural people in areas where the sport was popular.
The local officials said they would start making arrangements for the jallikattu once they received the green signal from the government.
The organisers said they would follow the Supreme Court guidelines in letter and spirit.
Rajasekhar, a jallikattu organiser, said the sport was banned on misconception that the bulls were being ill-treated.
"Now the lifting of the ban will not only protect the native breed of bulls from being sent to slaughter houses, but enrich the farm field with their manure," he claimed.
The objective of the sport was manifold including to add colour not only to the Pongal festival, but protecting the bulls which were otherwise not very useful, and promoting sportsmanship, valour and physic of the youth, he said.
Saravanan, who owns three jallikattu bulls worth Rs six lakh, said bulls were worshipped by Hindus. They are reared like race horses by providing nutritious feed.
Many people rear bulls for sake of honour -- they want their bull to win and have no other materialistic intention, he added.
On impact of earlier ban, Saravanan claimed that in the aftermath of the directive several hundred bulls were sent to slaughter houses.
Referring to the objections by animal rights activists, he wondered whether they wanted slaughter of bulls.
Tamil Nadu Congress Committee President EVKS Elangovan, PMK chief S Ramadoss and Vaiko welcomed the Centre's notification.
PMK wanted safeguards to ensure that the notification did not confront obstacles like a legal challenge. "Carry out legal safeguards so that no one could get a ban on jallikattu," Ramadoss said.
Congress and MDMK too expressed a view on similar lines. "I will be more happy if the present permission did not face a ban by the court," Elangovan said.
"Appropriate arrangements should be made by the state and Central governments so that there are no other obstacles to the conduct of jallikattu," Vaiko said.
He also wanted sufficient safety measures to be put in place for the event.
Elangovan and Ramadoss had a word of praise for Radhakrishnan for his efforts.
"I welcome the notification, I laud him (Radhakrishnan) for his efforts," the TNCC chief said.
He also said that it was "very erroneous" to blame the notification of the Congress led-UPA in 2011. It did not stand in the way of jallikattu as the event was held in subsequent years till it was banned by the Supreme Court in May 2014, he added.