Jallikattu, the traditional bull-taming sport was held after two years in Nellikulam of Thiruchuzhi in Tamil Nadu’s Virudhunagar district as part of the Chithirai Pongal Thiruvizha at Veeransooran Temple.
Generally, Jallikattu is conducted as part of ‘Mattu’ Pongal, the third day of the four-day-long harvest festival ‘Pongal’ during January in Tamil Nadu. The Tamil word ‘Mattu’ means bull, and the third day of Pongal is dedicated to cattle, a key partner in the process of farming. Apparently, during Chithirai (Mid-April) festival, Jallikattu has been conducted in various parts of Tamil Nadu.
Similarly, a total of 250 bull tamers and 350 Jallikattu bulls participated in the competition held in Nellikulam. The organizers allotted a time frame to each tamer. The winner is decided based on the duration a tamer holds on the hump of the Jallikattu bull.
The Chithirai festival which was not held due to the Covid-19 pandemic for the past two years was conducted in a grand manner this year. The main event of the festival is said to be a bull-taming (Jallikattu) competition held on April 27. More than a thousand Jallikattu bulls from Madurai, Theni, Dindigul, Sivaganga, Virudhunagar, and Ramanathapuram districts had registered for the competition and only 350 Jallikattu bulls were unloaded at ‘Vadivasal’ (The enclosure from where the Jallikattu bulls are shoved into the main arena).
Likewise, as many as 250 bull tamers participated in the competition. The Jallikattu competition was held in 10 rounds with 25 tamers per round. The bull tamers showed off their skills by taming the raging bulls in the aisle. The tamers who suppressed the bulls were honored with prizes like Air Cooler, Mobile Phone, Cupboard, Cooker, Cot, and Silver Accessories according to the duration a bull tamer holds on the bull’s hump.
Meanwhile, gifts were given to ‘Kattappa’, a local bull that was not caught by any of the tamers. Fortunately, the Jallikattu competition was held without injuries to the bull tamers. The competition, which has not been held for the past two years, was attended by a large number of youth, and spectators who came to witness the traditional sport.