Jallikattu, Tamil Nadu's bull-taming sport, begins in Madurai after authorities review arrangements

Ahead of the start of the Jalikattu event, district collector, along with a local minister, examined the arrangements

Jallikattu, Tamil Nadu's bull-taming sport, begins in Madurai after authorities review arrangements

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu’s popular bull-taming sport Jaillikattu kick-started in the temple town of Madurai on Wednesday. In Madurai, the bull-taming sport will be played at three villages – Avaniyapuram, Alanganallur and Palamedu. According to reports, a total of 730 bulls in Avaniyapuram, 700 bulls in Alanganallur and 650 bulls in Palamedu are participating in Jallikattu event this year. 

Ahead of the start of the event, district collector, along with a local minister, examined the arrangements. At Avaniyapuram, the sport will be played today, while at Alanganallur and Palamedu it will be played on January 16 and 17 respectively. 

''A total of 21 ambulance vans have been kept ready to provide medical facility to the injured players. Players have been divided into batches,'' retired Principal District Judge C Manickam, who was appointed by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court as Chairman of the organising committee for Jallikattu, told reporters on Wednesday.

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“We've divided the players into a batch of 75 each, 60 bulls will be released one by one in one go. Top police officials are present at the spot to deal with any situation,” he added. 

Around 12 closed-circuit television cameras have been placed in the area where the Jallikattu will be played. Around 2,000 bulls are likely to take part in various Jallikattu events all across Tamil Nadu during the Pongal festival.

Jallikattu is a controversial bull-taming “sport” that involves an aggressive confrontation between cattle and humans and is extremely popular in Tamil Nadu. Jallikattu was banned by the Supreme Court in 2014, but the Tamil Nadu and central governments stepped in to reverse the bar amid widespread protests in the state.

The ban, many fans argued, was an assault on Tamil pride. Supporters also claimed that Jallikattu helps them identify strong bulls for breeding.

However, animal rights activists claim bulls are almost invariably assaulted during the sport and often intoxicated.

Moreover, animal rights organisations claim bulls are often stabbed with knives or sticks, punched, jumped on and swept across the floor as the human participants try to tame them.