I was a teenager when I first took part in Jallikattu at Vadamadurai. The bull I faced was a fierce one and belonged to a landlord in Kuruvithurai. I still cherish the small brass kuthuvilakku I got there as a prize. I have won hundreds of prizes and have tamed nearly 500 bulls so far.
My brother Bose Ambalam was a renowned bull fighter too until he lost his life in a Jallikattu. But, it didn’t deter me from following him. I am crazy about taming bulls and am hailed as a brave man. I always wanted to be famous and realised my dream when I got the opportunity to act in the opening Jallikattu scene in the film Virumandi. It was a great experience for a villager like me to work with actors.
One more thing that Jallikattu won me was the love of my wife Praveena. Watching me tame fierce bulls, she fell in love with me and we are leading a happy life so far. My mother Muthayi used to encourage me in bull fighting.
I don’t want the legacy of Jallikattu to end. I train enthusiastic youngsters in my team. I teach them lesser known techniques. I like controlling bulls that have a reputation for being fierce. I have many scars in my body, two broken ribs and a plate stitched inside my face. Yet, I can’t resist taking part each time. As a team, we visit places all over the state, wherever the sport is held and we share the prizes and the money we win there.
(A fortnightly column on men and women who make Madurai what it is)