NAGAPATTINAM: Organisers and participants of the 43-year-old Rekla Race which is held in Thirukadaiyur are a disappointed lot after Madras High Court banned the event this year.
The annual event is held on Kaanum Pongal. The court responded to a public interest litigation (PIL) writ petition filed by Mayiladuthurai-based lawyer A Sangamitharan last week and passed the order to ban the race on Monday.
“My father, Narayanasamy, first organised the race 43 years ago. He used to compete in the race and won a few times. It (the court order) is a disappointment as we have invited cart owners and jockeys the race which is so dear to us,” said N Balu, an event organiser.
The race is organised on the National Highway between Thirukadaiyur and Tharangambadi over a distance of 8 km. The festival has taken place without police permission many times. Police used to book the organisers under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act but this never stopped the organisers from conducting the festival.
In 2019, 64 horse carts and 57 bullock carts participated. Last year, a spectator was gored by rampaging bullock pulling a cart during the race. Ramachandran (50) of Kaliyappananallur succumbed to his injuries. The event organisers said processes are underway to provide compensation to the family of the deceased.
The case came for hearing on Monday. The judges banned the sport after going through the arguments and evidence, which proved unfavourable to the event. Speaking to TNIE, Sangamitharan said, “We are not against the sport or the race. The problem is with the venue as it is unsafe for people on the roads. The race can take place but on a circuit or road with less traffic with permission as is the case with jallikattu.”