Madurai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and other ministers in the Tamil Nadu government were present on Tuesday to witness the final day of a Jallikattu event and shower participants with gifts - at the same venue where villagers sparked off a protest exactly a year ago.
The traditional sport of bull taming faced criticisms from animal rights activists after a 19-year-old was gored to death by a bull on Monday. Two more deaths were reported from Sivagangai district on Tuesday.
The state passed an ordinance last year surpassing the Supreme Court ban on the sport in 2014, thus making way for the state to organise the festival once again.
BJP's Tamilisai Soundarajan credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for bringing back Jallikattu, while AIADMK ministers credited O Panneerselvam for bringing back Jallikattu to the state.
The ministers present sponsored gold coins and to top it all, two white cars parked next to the Vaadivaasal (Jallikattu ring) with AIADMK and former Chief Minsiter Jayalalithaa's stickers pasted on them awaited the best bull owner and bull tamer.
Thousands gathered to witness the event on all three days raising questions regarding safety as in some corners the audience outnumbered the seating capacity. People could be seen hanging from trees.
People were shouting at some of the participants asking them to follow the rules. (Photo: CNN-News 18)
Following the death of the teenager, animal rights activist Gauri Maulekhi called the event "state sponsored barbarism taking the lives of its own people".
However, none of this affected the event or the crowd on its final day.
"Isolated incidents do take place. But that doesn't mean the sport should be banned. All those who participate know the dangers involved if at all there is any," said Jayakumar, a bull owner.
More than a hundred people were injured during the event on first two days. Medical and veterinary teams with ambulances, fire and rescue, and police teams were present at the venue at all times.
Madurai Collector Veera Raghava Rao, who has been overlooking the event, disqualified the erring participants.
People were also seen shouting at some of the participants asking them to follow the rules. Animal welfare activists were also observing the event.
Jallikattu, a traditional bull taming sport in Tamil Nadu is held during the harvest festival of Pongal. The bulls which are let out to the ring one by one is expected to be tamed by any of the tamers present in the ring. Prizes go to the tamer if successful and to the bull owner if not. The sport is still seen as an event to showcase the valour of men in these villages.