A trainer during a preparation session in Tiruchy on Tuesday; and (below) a bull sharpening its fighting skills | M K Ashok Kumar
With Pongal round the corner, bull owners across the Central districts were busy preparing their animals for the much awaited Jallikattu. Sources said around 900 bulls in Tiruchy would test the skills of the tamers in arenas this January.
Whether it be intensive training programmes or healthy nutritious food, owners are leaving no stones unturned to train their prized bulls to bring laurels, as Jallikattu is not merely a contest, but a matter of pride.
The euphoria is palpable in the locals as well. A Ravichandran, a mason said, “I am eagerly waiting for Jallikattu. It is my passion. I have been maintaining bulls for the past 20 years. I take every care to make Payum Puli (his bull) strong. I even take him for swimming as it enhances muscle strength and stamina.”
Some owners are going out of their way to keep their bulls well-fed. For instance F Mariyanathan feeds his bull as often as possible, for he says agility alone do not make a champion bull.
“Jallikattu bulls need heavy and nutritious food along with exercise, so that they do not get drowsy. My Karungalai (his bull) is well-built and has a huge hump. He is a veteran having won many prizes in the past 10 years,” said Mariyanathan.He added that this year also Karungalai would give the tamers a run for their money and would emerge victorious. “If Karungalai wins, it would be a matter of great pride for me,” he said.
N Baskar, State president of Thamilar Jallikattu Valarppu Peravai, said it was high time that the State government considered giving permission for Jallikattu across all the districts.
Sources said the authorities had so far permitted only the Periya Sooriyur Jallikattu. However, the number of venues may increase after the December 30 consultative meeting.
Meanwhile, in Madurai, Collector L Subramanian on Tuesday held a consultative meeting with officials from various departments and members of village committees who organise the jallikattu event during Pongal.
Listing the rules and safety measures to be followed during the event, he warned that the licence of village committees would be cancelled if they failed to adhere to the safety norms.
“PWD officials will work closely with the village committees to ensure that galleries are constructed using quality timbers. The visitors’ gallery should be separated from the game ring by a double-walled barricade measuring a height of 8 feet each.” said the Collector.