Madurai: In a first of its kind, Avaniyapuram has drawn the state’s and country’s attention at large this year with 2,500 youth, many among them believed novices in bull taming, landing there to be part of the grand spectacular jallikattu on Sunday.
As villagers gear up for the jallikattu event with bull owners bathing their bulls and making them swim for few minutes in the pond to check their stamina and its aggression, all in an effort to get it battle-ready in the arena, the women folks performed special poojas for the bulls in their houses, praying their favorite deity to win in the event.
The children, seen gathered around the village ponds, were immersed in conversation discussing about the sporting skills of each of the bulls (referring them by its name Karuppa, Bomi, Ayyan) that were brought to the water for bathing. Nearby the Vadivasal (the entry point of bulls into the arena) located adjacent to Angaalaparameswari Gurunathar temple, the children played with enthusiasts in the arena covered with saw dust for the safety of bull and tamers.
Few meters away, thousands of bull tamers gathered for the event, were subjected to medical examination at a government primary school. “We are checking for blood pressure, eye sight, endurance of the bull tamers and also whether they are suffering from any disability,” said Dr S Sivakumar, government medical officer.
“It was nearly after two-years, we are getting the chance to participate in the sport. My hands are itching to catch the horns of the bulls,” said bull tamer Kannan from Anaiyur near Madurai.
Thanks to the students’ movement to safeguard Tamils’ traditional culture, hundreds of college students have shown up for the first time to participate in jallikattu, added Kannan, a seasoned tamer. As many as 1,287 tamers have cleared the medical fitness test in the first round. “Tomorrow morning we will examine these tamers for alcohol consumption and drugs before allowing them inside the arena,” said Shivakumar.
Dr S R Muthuram, veterinary assistant surgeon, Veterinary dispensary, Avaniyapuram said that all the 916 registered for the event would be checked to ensure that the animals were not administered with performance-enhancing drugs or doped.
The Madurai district collector K Veera Raghava Rao said that all safety arrangements have been made for the event. As many as 15 medical teams, two veterinary ambulances and 13 mobile medical units, eight ambulances and five fire-fighting vehicles would be deployed in the venue, he added.
A huge contingent of media is expected to cover the jallikattu tomorrow.
All these years the event was held on the first day of ‘pongal’, which rarely got media coverage mainly because it was a closed holiday for the newspapers in Tamil Nadu.
Best bull’s owner to be gifted car
Alanganallur, always known for expensive prizes that are given to bull tamers in the jallikattu event there, will see the owner of the best performing bull driving home with a car this year after the event on February 10.
For the first time, the village jallikattu festival committee has decided to reward the owner of the bull that puts up the best performance on the ground. And the prize of the car will be costing Rs 3.5 lakh.
V Sundararagavan, secretary of the festival committee said that all these years they have awarded costly prices for the best bull tamer in the event. “This year we decided to award the costly gift to the bull owner to spread the awareness among the people to save the indigenous bulls from extinction.”
As jallikattu had not been conducted for the last two years due to Supreme Court order, the bull population has come down in the village,” said Sundararagavan.
A power tiller would also be gifted to the owner of another best performing bull in the sport. Five Enfield bullets, a Honda bike and seven cycles among other costly gifts would be distributed as prize for bull tamers, said J Sundararajan, president of the committee. A separate committee would be formed to select the best performing bull and tamers during the event.
When reporters asked about whether the senior leaders from other political parties would be invited for the sport, Sundararagavan said that the committee welcomes leaders from any political party to witnesses the sport.
Clarifying that either members of the HR and CE department or the festival committee have been organizing the event in the village since government started conducting the event in 1987, he said, “We have invited the Tamil Nadu Chief Minsiter O Panneerselvam for the sport. We are looking forward to his presence.”
The committee members also responded positively when asked whether they would welcome the opposition leader M K Stalin for the event. “It is a village celebration and we welcome all the people to witness the sport,” he added. There would be a separate gallery for the students this year.
The committee would conduct ‘poojas’ on Sunday for erecting barricade for the sport. Bull-tamers were asked to register for participation on February 6 and bull owners on February 7. All the registrations would be completed on February 8....