Thousands of people have turned up to watch jallikattu in Alanganallur, the town that became the nerve centre for protests in favour of the bull taming sport. Around 950 bulls are being let out of the vadivasal, and over 1200 men are trying to tame them.
Friday marks the first jallikattu in Alanganallur in two years, and the occasion is being celebrated with fanfare by residents and others who have flocked in to watch the sport.
Jallikattu was banned in Tamil Nadu for several years, after the Supreme Court ordered that the bull be added to the list of performing animals included in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. In January, students and youngsters in Tamil Nadu had conducted massive protests against the ban, forcing the government to sit up and take notice.
The TN government had then passed an ordinance, amending the PCA Act, and allowing the conduct of jallikattu in the state. The protests against the ban were hailed as a people’s movement, and saw largely peaceful agitation across Tamil Nadu, especially at the Marina Beach in Chennai.
But although the movement for legalising jallikattu notoriously kept politicians away, the event in Alanganallur is being president over by the Leader of Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly and DMK working president, MK Stalin.
The announcers encouraged the players by doling out a list of prizes - including gold coins, cycles, bureaus, tables and chairs. TV reports said that 1650 people participated in the sport, while 2500 police personnel were deployed for ensuring the safe conduct of jallikattu.
Director Raghava Lawrence, who was part of the pro-jallikattu protests at Marina, was also in Alanganallur for the event.