At least 46 people were injured during the jallikattu festival in Palamedu village in Madurai district of Tamil Nadu on Wednesday, the second day of the event. The traditional sport involves a bull charging into an arena where participants attempt to encircle it and grab its hump. The participant who is able to cling on to the animal is declared the winner.
A senior police official at the Superintendent of Police office in Madurai told Scroll.in that at least 13 of these people were seriously injured and have been admitted to hospital. As many as 735 men competed on Wednesday to tame 567 bulls.
Bull tamers as well as bull owners were given prizes, reports said. A car was awarded to a bull owner identified as Prabhu as the first prize as it could not be tamed by anyone. Prabhakaran from Othaveedu village bagged the special prize for taming 10 bulls, while Ajay won the second prize for taming nine bulls and Mettupatti Karthik Saravanan came third by taming seven bulls.
On the first day in Avaniapuram village, about 40 people were injured, according to The Hindu. However, all the injuries were minor. Only eight people were admitted to the Government Rajaji Hospital, while others merely received first aid, officials said. Among the eight wounded were five people who accompanied the bulls, two tamers and one spectator.
However, Madurai Collector S Natarajan told AFP on Wednesday that 49 people were wounded the previous day. “Nine were taken to hospital for minor injuries,” he added.
As many as 533 bulls were registered to take part in the event on the first day, but the animal husbandry department declared 21 to be unfit. Of the 512 remaining bulls, 476 managed to enter the jallikattu arena between 8 am and 4 pm, The Hindu reported.
As many as 552 bull tamers registered for the event, but two were declared unfit. S Tirunavukkarasu from Muthalaipatti village, who tamed nine bulls, was chosen as the best bull tamer.
V Thavam, a photographer based in Madurai, told Scroll.in that the jallikattu event in Palamedu was better than the one in Avaniapuram. “Palamedu had more space for the bulls to run,” Thavam said. “It was conducted in the traditional manner unlike the one held in Avaniapuram. More than 30,000 people thronged the venue to watch the event.”
In December, the Tamil Nadu government had issued a notification allowing the bull taming sport in three areas of Madurai – Avaniayapuram in South Madurai taluk on January 15, Palamedu in Vadipatti taluk on January 16 and Alanganallur, also in Vadipatti, on January 17.
Animal rights groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have in the past protested against the sport. The Supreme Court banned the sport in 2014. In January 2016, though, yielding to popular pressure, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government published a notification allowing bulls to be used in the sport. Animal rights groups challenged this, prompting the Supreme Court to quash the notification a few days later.
However, the Tamil Nadu government in 2017 passed an amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, a central law, allowing jallikattu. This amendment was approved by the president of India and jallikattu events were permitted again.