Madurai: A spectator died of a heart attack while more than 40 bull-tamers were injured in the bull taming sport of Jallikattu which was held across Tamil Nadu on Thursday as part of Pongal festivities which began on 15 January.
At the bustling hamlet of Alanganallur, a popular venue for the sport, a 45-year-old man in the spectators' gallery died of heart attack, police said. About 40 bull tamers were injured, they said. A total of 729 bulls were used in the event which was watched by tourists from abroad also.
About 1,500 police personnel maintained vigil, police said, adding that an Indo-Tibetan Border Police team was also deployed at the venue for the first time. Tamil Nadu minister RP Udhayakumar inaugurated the event by flagging off the release of a bull from its pen.
Jallikattu remained banned following a Supreme Court order in May 2014 before the state government in 2017 brought in an ordinance to facilitate its conduct at the height of a massive protest held at Marina Beach in Chennai and several places across the state.
Accordingly, Jallikattu was held in some places during the third week of January and in the first week of February elsewhere that year. Udhayakumar unveiled a memorial slab for Jallikattu at Alanganallur, on Thursday. He also said a memorial would soon be built to honour the pro-Jallikattu protests.
Gifts worth lakhs of rupees were given to those who succeeded in taming the bulls and bull owners whose animals could not be tamed. The events were also held at several locations including Avarangadu in Tiruchirappalli ,Pudukottai, Karur and Dindigul. Many bull tamers were injured in the events, police said.
Other rural sporting events like bullock cart rallies were also held in several villages. At Coimbatore, traditional village dances like 'Oyilattam' were conducted and heritage musical instruments were played so that people could get to have a glimpse of those used in bygone eras.
Jallikattu had already been conducted at Palamedu (Madurai) and Periya Suriyoor (Tiruchirappalli), famous for the bull taming sport, on Wednesday and at Avaniapuram (Madurai) on Tuesday, coinciding with the Pongal festival.
Over 800 bull tamers took part while more than 700 bulls were used. About 100 youths and some spectators were injured in these events, police said. The successful bull tamers and owners of bulls that could not be reined in were showered with gifts including motorcyle (Best Tamer) and a car (Best Bull) in the events.
Usually, temple bulls are first sent through the 'Vaadi Vasal," the entrance to the sporting arena as part of prayers for a good harvest and prosperity and in keeping with tradition such animals are not caught by the tamers. Several events centred on rural sports and folk arts were also held across Tamil Nadu by the tourism department as part of the Pongal celebrations.
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Updated Date: Jan 18, 2019 16:05:07 IST