The fourth edition of Coimbatore jallikattu, organised by the district administration and Kovai Jallikattu Sangam was held here on Sunday with Municipal Administration Minister S.P. Velumani flagging off the event in the presence of senior officials, police officers, elected representatives and the Sangam members.
Earlier, the Minister showered petals on bulls and administered pledge to the players that they would neither harm the animals nor violate rules.
The Kovai Jallikattu Sangam representatives had organised the sport dividing the play time – from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. into one-hour slots. For each of the slots, they let in a group of players with unique uniforms.
As each bull was released into the arena through the vaadi vaasal, the players jumped onto the bulls to grip the hump.
The player who held on to the hump until the bull made three rounds or crossed the finish line won a prize. If not, the bull owner won the prize. The organisers declared as foul if players either grabbed bulls by horns or tail or tried to stop the bull from running ahead by placing their legs between the animal’s forelimbs.
The Animal Husbandry Department in the presence of representatives from the Animal Welfare Board of India checked all the bulls for fitness before they were taken to the arena. A department officer said veterinarians checked each bull for its height and fitness and if it was drugged.
The veterinarians placed a pipe measuring 120 cm near each bull’s hump to check if the animal was tall enough. And, they let in only those bulls that were taller. Likewise, the veterinary staff collected swab samples for an instant test to check if the animals were drugged or were on steroids.
If the test result showed positive, the veterinarians would not certify fitness, the officer said.
And, the department staff also checked the horns for sharpness. If they found the horns to be sharp and considered that they would endanger the players, they blunted it using instruments that they carried, he added.
Jallikattu player S. Prabhakaran, 25, of Pothumbu, Madurai, said he was returning to Coimbatore for the fourth year after having won prizes in Palamedu. To be in the arena and play with the bulls gave him a sense of pride, for it was the youth that protested against the ban on the sport.
D. Madurai Veeran, 24, a B.Sc. Botany graduate, said this year he had participated in a few jallikattu events in Madurai district and had come to Coimbatore because embracing bulls gave him a bliss, which was nonpareil.
The administration said of the 948 bulls registered, the veterinarians permitted 943 animals. Of those seven suffered injuries – six bruises and one had a major injury and was referred for veterinary care.
As for the number of players, the administration screened the 750 registered and permitted only 640. Of those, 28 suffered minor injuries and 14 had to be referred for medical attention.
Five police personnel who were on duty regulating crowd and keeping away persons other than players in the area were injured. No animal or player died during the event, the administration added.
And, at the end of the event, the Sangam announced that Santhosh of Vaviripatti, Pudukottai, won the first prize by holding onto 15 bulls. Karthi of Karuppayioorani, Madurai, was next with 13 bulls to his credit and Karthi of Natham, Dindigul, came third with 11 bulls.
The first prize for the bull owners went to Health Minister C. Vijayabaskar, the second prize to Rajasekaran of Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Peravai and third prize to Anbu of Pazhanganatham, Madurai.
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