Jallikattu Ban: Madurai Youth Take Bull By Horns For An Hour

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Madurai: An impromptu jallikattu event at Karisalkulam village saw four bulls of the famous Pullikulam cattle breed charging through the Vadivasal and engaging the local youths for around an hour during Bhogi Pongal on Friday morning.

By the time the police arrived at the scene, the jallikattu was over and each and every villager offered himself to be arrested thus putting the police in a piquant situation. “We are ready to go to jail to safeguard the Tamil tradition,” said the youths.

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Earlier, as news of bulls being let through the Vadivasal (the entry point of the bull into the arena) people from neighbouring villages rushied to the open ground near Ayyanar temple. In the past, jallikattu was held inside the village in connection with the festivities of the Ayayanar temple. Jallikattu was not held in the past two years and this year the youths were determined to hold it and were encouraged by growing support for the sport all over the state with even college students sitting in the streets in protest.

The bull tamers, who have been eagerly waiting to lay their hands on the humps of the bull near the makeshift Vadivasal, raised their voices in unison when the bull owner released the bulls into the arena.

While some fell into the hard ground unable to match its speed, Moorthy, a famous bull tamer, managed to grab the hump of two bulls for a few metres. In formal competition, a tamer holding a hump of the bull for 15 metres in the arena from the Vadivasal was declared as the winner.

But none could go close to Ramu, who was tethered with a long rope and tied to a stone in the middle of the arena. The bull running around in circles is called `Vadam Jallikattu’ one of oldest forms of the sport in which the bull and the bull-tamers fight face-to-face.

“Nobody could win my Ramu even in famous Alanganallur jallikattu held in 2013 where it stood majestically in the arena and played with the tamers for nearly 15 minutes,” said Deepak who had purchased Ramu for `1.5 lakh two years ago.

People who had gathered in the ground raised loud noises in jubilation encouraging the bull-tamers to catch the bulls. “I rushed from Palamedu after I heard about the event. See the hairs standing on my hand,” said 45-year-old Veeriya Perumal, who has been watching the sport for nearly 30 years. “Today I felt like I really celebrated Pongal nearly after two years,” said Arul, a software professional from Madurai.

Meanwhile, when the police tried to remove the Vadaivasal, the youths gathered around it and raised slogans — “We are fighting to safeguard Tamil culture. You arrest all of us, but don’t destroy our cultural symbols,”

Respecting their sentiments, the police and revenue officials left the area after getting assurances from the people that they wouldn’t conduct the event again.