80 injured during bull taming revelry in Tamil Nadu

January 16th, 2009 - 11:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Alanganallur (Tamil Nadu), Jan 16 (IANS) The spirit on the third day of the Tamil festival of Pongal was not dampened though over 80 young men suffered minor injuries while attempting to tame charging bulls on the occasion of ‘Jallikkattu’ or ‘Yeru Thazhuvudal’ (hugging the bull) here Friday. On the Supreme Court’s orders, the bulls and the combatants had undergone medical tests before the start of the event - associated with valour - under the supervision of local administration officials, including top brass of the police department.

The injured were taken to local hospitals for treatment.

The fete was banned last year by the Supreme Court following representations from animal rights activists who alleged cruelty to animals.

Enthusiasts of the sport, however, said the ban was needless as the animals were not treated in a cruel way.

“There is virtually no cruelty to either man or beast in this sport that only tests the endurance and skills of locals without any violence against the animals as no weapons are used,” enthusiast K.R. Cheenichamy Thevar told IANS.

“Further, winning bulls and their tamers return home for a hearty meal unlike what happens in Europe where the animals are killed,” Cheenichamy added.

“Perhaps we need to learn a thing or two from here to improve the way our bullfighters treat animals in Italy, Spain and Portugal. The participation is spontaneous and huge. The total absence of violence is the most important aspect in India,” Mavro Trentini, an Italian spectator, told IANS.

Animal activists told the Supreme Court last year that the festival had copied some of the bull-running methods in Pamplona (Spain) resulting in cruelty to animals besides injuries to the participants and spectators alike.

They succeeded in obtaining a stay by pointing out that tamers ganged up on animals subduing them by sheer force of numbers. Further, unlike Pamplona, absence of barricades resulted in serious injuries to spectators, activists said in their petition.

The stay was vacated just before the festival last year following assurances from the local administrations that they would take adequate precautions.

Situated some 400 km south of state capital Chennai, this village is located in Madurai district.

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