(Eds: Recasts, adds details on injuries) Madurai, Jan 16 (PTI) More than 20 bull tamers were injured during 'jallikattu' events on Thursday with the popular bull taming sport of Tamil Nadu being conducted at Palamedu here and Suriyur in Tiruchirappalli district as part of Pongal harvest festivities.
A bull sustained a minor injury at Palamedu, officials said.
An official told PTI that as many as 659 bulls were used at the Palamedu event which was inaugurated by Revenue Minister R B Udhayakumar.
A total of 675 tamers participated.
'As regards tamers, 16 sustained minor and 10 suffered major injuries and 10 cases have been referred (to a State run hospital),' the official said, adding only one out of the 600 plus bulls sustained a minor injury.
At Suriyur, 610 bulls were used.
Over 300 tamers took part in the event, officials said, adding a woman spectator was injured when a bull hit her near the exit point.
At Palamedu, which is more popular, announcements of a variety of prizes like gold coins, gift packs, cycles, and vessels kept the participants on their toes to dominate the animals and emerge victorious.
Bull owners were also anxious that their animals should evade the tamers and run over to the end point so that they could bag prizes.
Nail-biting moments were witnessed when a tamer hung over the hump of a fierce bull but lost his grip and fell right in front of its legs.
As luck would have it, the participant escaped unhurt as the animal effortlessly jumped across and fled.
Not all were however so lucky and some sustained injuries at both Palamedu and Suriyur. But, no bull was harmed by tamers, according to officials.
The presence of a slew of sponsors right from smartphone retailers, vessel merchants to consumer durable retail chains showed the event's popularity at Palamedu.
Also, many firms jostled for space to put up their advertisements in the form of banners in and around the sporting arena.
An official said participants took an oath to stick to rules and not do anything that may harm the animals.
Jallikattu was held at Avaniapuram here on Wednesday, marking the start of the annual events.
A key highlight of ongoing sporting season is the Alanganallur jallikattu and it will be held here on Friday.
The bull taming events had in the past courted several controversies with stiff opposition from animal rights activists who alleged violence against the bovines.
In 2015 and the following year, the sport remained banned following a Supreme Court order in May 2014.
The apex court had held jallikattu as violative of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act), 1960.
However, in January 2017, widespread protests peaked across Tamil Nadu seeking approval for holding jallikattu.
Defying the ban, the sport was held in a number of places and slowly the protests took the shape of a mass movement and the vast expanse of the Marina beach in Chennai emerged as the epicentre of the stir.
All political parties, including the ruling AIADMK and main opposition DMK, supported the demand for permission to hold the sport.
Amid continuing protests, the Tamil Nadu Assembly on January 23, 2017 unanimously passed an amendment bill for conducting the bull taming sport without any hindrance.
The Bill to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act was unanimously adopted after members of all parties spoke welcoming it.
The Bill defined jallikattu as an event involving bulls and conducted from January to May and it includes similar events like 'manjuviratu', 'vadamadu' and 'erudhuvidum' festivals.
It exempted jallikattu from the PCA Act's purview, considering the 'vital role of jallikattu in preserving and promoting tradition and culture and ensuring the survival and continuance of native breeds of bulls.' The ancient name of Jallikattu is 'Yeruthazhuvuthal,' which meant embracing the bull and later it came to be known as jallikattu.
It is generally accepted that the word 'jallikattu,' evolved from 'salli kasu kattu.' While salli kasu meant coins, kattu was a reference to the pouch of coins -the prize money- tied to the horns of the bulls in olden times. PTI VGN BN BN