In India, a bull-fighting sport Jallikattu played by over 2000 bulls and 730 bull catchers left 71 injured — and it has just begun

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In India, a bull-fighting sport Jallikattu played by over 2000 bulls and 730 bull catchers left 71 injured — and it has just begun
  • South India’s famous bull-taming festival — Jallikattu — kicked off yesterday and will last till January 31.
  • This year, so far, about 71 persons were injured in Madurai district on Wednesday, according to reports.
  • For years, Jallikattu has been criticised for animal cruelty.
  • However, it is an important festival for farmers in India who celebrate their spirit of hard work by controlling a bull.
As drum thumps and thousands of people cheer, several men jump on the backs of bull and try to hang on as it jumps and fights aggressively. Such adventurers win prizes like utensils, clothes, bicycles, motorbikes or even a car if they hold on to the bull for three jumps in 30 seconds.

This is South India’s famous bull-taming festival — Jallikattu — celebrated across Tamil Nadu state during the four-days of Pongal or the harvest festival. The bull taming games — kicked off today and will last till January 31.

The sport has been the centre of controversy from across the world for tormenting both humans and animals. This year, so far, about 71 persons were injured in Madurai district on Wednesday, according to reports.

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The traditional Jallikattu is a part of the Pongal festival celebrations in the state and trace its history back to 400-100 BC.

The traditional Jallikattu is a part of the Pongal festival celebrations in the state and trace its history back to 400-100 BC.

This year, Jallikattu began in Avaniyapuram in Madurai in which about 700 bulls and about 730 bull tamers participated.

This year, Jallikattu began in Avaniyapuram in Madurai in which about 700 bulls and about 730 bull tamers participated.
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It is an important festival for farmers in India who celebrate their spirit of hard work by controlling a bull.

It is an important festival for farmers in India who celebrate their spirit of hard work by controlling a bull.

For years, Jallikattu has been criticised for animal cruelty. It is reportedly said that bull owners throw lime juice and chilli into the eye’s of the bull to turn them aggressive during the game.

For years, Jallikattu has been criticised for animal cruelty. It is reportedly said that bull owners throw lime juice and chilli into the eye’s of the bull to turn them aggressive during the game.
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Sometimes, bulls are stabbed with knives by participants who try to win the game. For supporters, this is a tradition they worship. Farmers believe bulls are a perfect show of strength.

Sometimes, bulls are stabbed with knives by participants who try to win the game. For supporters, this is a tradition they worship. Farmers believe bulls are a perfect show of strength.

In 2014, the Supreme Court of India banned the sport following complaints of animal cruelty. However, the decision was reversed in 2017 following massive protests.

In 2014, the Supreme Court of India banned the sport following complaints of animal cruelty. However, the decision was reversed in 2017 following massive protests.
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The Tamil Nadu government believes the festival is significant for the "survival and well-being of the native breed of bulls and preserving cultural traditions".

The Tamil Nadu government believes the festival is significant for the "survival and well-being of the native breed of bulls and preserving cultural traditions".

Not just bulls, the festival sometimes involves the "Wanga" breed of foxes. Considered a good omen by locals, a particular breed of foxes are pulled out of jungles for use in a "jallikattu" type event.

Not just bulls, the festival sometimes involves the "Wanga" breed of foxes. Considered a good omen by locals, a particular breed of foxes are pulled out of jungles for use in a "jallikattu" type event.
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The foxes are tied using ropes and chased across the streets by the villagers on 'Kaanum Pongal', the last day of the annual harvest festival.

The foxes are tied using ropes and chased across the streets by the villagers on 'Kaanum Pongal', the last day of the annual harvest festival.

The villagers in parts of the district, including in Chinniampalayam and Vadukathampatty, observe this practice as they believe the Wanga foxes bring good fortunes and copious rains. The foxes are later sent back to the forest.

The villagers in parts of the district, including in Chinniampalayam and Vadukathampatty, observe this practice as they believe the Wanga foxes bring good fortunes and copious rains. The foxes are later sent back to the forest.

(With inputs from agencies)

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