Temple in Madurai village stands tall against caste bias, celebrates valour, jallikattu

If jallikattu is deep rooted in cultural ethos, the tales of valour that accompany the sport is the icing on the cake that many a tamer looks to emulate.

Published: 14th January 2023 05:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th January 2023 05:38 AM   |  A+A-

The statue of Alagu Thevar and Samayan on the arch of the temple | kk sundar

Express News Service

MADURAI: If jallikattu is deep rooted in cultural ethos, the tales of valour that accompany the sport is the icing on the cake that many a tamer looks to emulate. The story behind the century-old Pattan Alagathevar Thirukovil is no different. 

The temple located in the non-descript Sorikampatti village near Chekkanurani is a testimony to the bonding and friendship between Alaga Thevar, a bull tamer, considered to be the best ever, hailing from a caste Hindu community, and Samayan, his aide belonging to a scheduled caste community. 

With Avaniyapuram, Palamedu and Alanganallur in Madurai district gearing up for the bull-taming sport on Jnauary 15, 16 and 17 respectively, the Sorikampatti villagers are on the last leg of preparations to send the bulls and tamers to the events to keep the legacy of Alaga Thevar, their ancestor and role model who lived some 400 years ago, alive. 

Before starting the practice sessions and setting off to the sporting venue, it’s a customary ritual among the villagers to seek the blessings of their ‘Thevar’ at the temple. The village is home to 15 jallikattu bulls and 20 tamers. Speaking to TNIE, the temple priest, whose name is also Alaga Thevar, said,

“In whichever jallikattu events Alaga Thevar and Samayan had participated they had brought home laurels. Samayan would pull the tail of the bull, and Thevar would hold the hump and they would tame it. The duo was never defeated. Because of this, the number of enemies also increased. In order to kill Thevar, a jallikattu organiser of Keelakuilkudi village plotted a conspiracy and killed him,” he said.

The priest said to kill Thevar, the jallikattu organiser gave special training to two bulls. “One was trained to pierce the left side of the tamer’s stomach with its horn, and the other was trained to pierce the right. When the bulls were fight-ready, the organiser announced he would marry off his daughter and gift half his property to the person who tames his bulls,” he said.

Thevar and Samayan fell into the trap, and during the event, Thevar was badly attacked by a bull and his intestine came out. But this time, thanks to the timely action of Samayan, who took Thavar out of the arena and applied herbal medicine on the wound, he was saved. When he started recovering, the organiser sent a person under the guise of a traditional healer who dressed the wound with a poisonous plaster that eventually led to his death. 

“Though it was Alaga Thevar’s last wish to construct a temple for himself, it was built only a hundred years ago,” the priest said.  G Siva, one of the decendents of Alagu Thevar, said even now many children are being christened Alaga, Alagu and the like to honour their ‘hero’.    

Samayan later died due to old age. “The villagers still believe his blessings would bring peace and happiness to the family,” Siva said. He said even now the bad blood between the villagers of Sorikampatti and Keelakuilkudi remains. “No marriage will happen between the families of the two villagers,” he said. 
Plus, Sorikampatti has no incident of caste discrimination. “We have a good relationship with people from scheduled castes,” Siva added.


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