VELLORE: As the major festival of Tamils, Pongal, is fast approaching, Vellore is gearing up for holding the brave sport for testing the strength of bulls-eruthu vidum vizha-at several places in the district.
The traditional sport of bull race is a predominant part of the Pongal festivities when the dairy farmers let loose their bulls for fetching them laurels with prize money.
Vellore suburbs, Katpadi, Anaicut, KV Kuppam, Gudiyattam, Vaniyambadi, Jolarpet, Natrampalli, Pennathur and Kaniyambadi are some of the places where the annual bull race is held with gaiety and excitement.
Well ahead of the event, the farmers have begun to give special care to the animals to enhance their physical strength to put up a better performance.
“I have been rearing five bulls including one Kangeyam breed. I am going to set three of them off in the eruthu vidum vizha in our village. Another two will be taken to the neighbouring village for the race,” G Jayaprakash, a farmer in Cholavaran near here, told Express. He has been raising the brave domesticated animals for more than fifteen years to run them in the race.
In his village, about 30 bulls are expected to run in the race to be held on Kanumpongal day. The top running bull will be honoured with cash award ranging from Rs.25,000 to Rs.1.50 lakh, besides other prizes including two wheelers and valuables.
Last year, the bull race was held in 134 places but this year only 51 applications were received as on 31 December.
“We have received 51 applications seeking permission for holding bull race for the Pongal season. All the applications were forwarded to the government for consideration,” a senior Revenue department official told Express.
The Animal Husbandry Department will scrutinise the applications and give its nod for the race. The district administration has stressed stringent adherence to the guidelines evolved by the government, non-compliance will lead to denial of permission at any point of time before conducting the event.
Village level monitoring committees are going to be constituted for inspecting the venue , the arrangements and safety measures.
District Collector SA Raman said, “The government has directed us to form village level committees wherever the eruthu vidum vizha is going to be held. The committees will comprise of a farmers' leader, a retired government employee, a veterinarian, a representative of NGOs and prominent figures of the concerned village.”
The committees will have to submit reports after examining all the aspects as per the guidelines.
The Collector chaired a meeting of the stakeholders on Tuesday to enlighten them on the guidelines and safety measures.
The Sub-collectors, RDOs and Tahsildar will inspect the venues thoroughly before granting nod.