The city’s first ever official ‘jallikattu’ (bull taming sport) was held on Sunday with over 450 competitors and 500 bulls taking part amid much fanfare and the top finisher bagging a car as prize. Jallikattu, largely confined to the southern districts of Tamil Nadu and organised during the ‘Pongal’ festivities by middle of this month, was held in this western industrial city for the first time, organisers said.
Four competitors suffered minor injuries such as bruises in the event, which drew an estimated 50,000 spectators, and were given medical treatment at the venue itself, they said. The traditional sport was organised by the City Corporation, district administration and the Omkar Foundation. Karthik of nearby Mettupatti bagged a car as the first prize for taming the maximum number of bulls, while the second and third place finishers were given a motor-cycle and a moped respectively.
A bull belonging to Rajasekhar of ‘Jallikkattu Peravai’ was adjudged the ‘best bull’ of the event. Tamil Nadu Municipal Administration Minister S P Velumani, who flagged off the event, distributed the prizes. Tight security arrangements had been made for the event. The venue, just a few metres away from a national highway, was jam packed with people even standing on the road to witness the event, claimed to be the first of its kind in the area.
During the ‘pooja’ done for setting up the ‘vadivasal’ (the entrance through which the bulls are let into the playing arena) last week, Velumani had termed it a ‘historic event’ as it would be the first time the traditional sport was being held at Coimbatore. However, some old timers claimed jallikattu had once been organised here in 1979 in memory of Tamil film producer Chinnappa Thevar.
The sport synonymous with Pongal festivities returned in its full traditional gaiety in the state during the festive period after a gap of three seasons. Jallikattu remained banned following a Supreme Court order in May 2014 before the state government last year brought an ordinance to facilitate its conduct at the height of a massive protest held at Marina Beach in Chennai and several places across the state during January.
Coimbatore too had joined the protests last year with students and other sections of the public turning out in large number at an agitation held in the city.