Thirty seven-year-old P. Raman nearly lost his voice after a bull’s horn pierced through his throat at a ‘jallikattu’ five years ago.
“I was bedridden for six months and had to take liquid food all the while. There is not a single part in my body that has not been injured in jallikattu,” said Mr. Raman in his hoarse voice. Yet, he participated in ‘jallikattu’ every year. “I have been participating for 20 years. I took one year break because of my throat injury. I will participate in the sport until I am healthy. I am sure the ban on ‘jallikattu’ will be lifted,” said the bull tamer.
Every house in Alanganallur has a bull tamer and 75 per cent of them have sustained injuries during the sport, villagers said. Not less than 100 bulls are being reared in the village.
“We spend around Rs.400 a day to feed and take care of our bulls. They are like our children. Why would we harm them?” asks R. Stalin Raja, a villager.
“The Naatu Maadu was used for agricultural activities and ‘jallikattu’ in the ancient times. Now that we use machineries for agriculture, the bull variety is used only in ‘jallikattu.’ The variety will become extinct, if the ban is not lifted,” said R. Govindaraj, who rears two bulls.
“Because the bulls are like our children, we will not abandon them even if the ban remains. The bulls are attached to us emotionally,” his wife G.L. Renugaeswari added. “When there is no ban on slaughter of cows in several States, the ban on ‘jallikattu’ is shocking,” said R. Kumarasamy, whose family has been rearing bulls for several generations.
“The temple bulls I have been rearing have caused me injuries on several occasions, yet I love them and the villagers worship their bulls. It is absolutely false that it is said we ill treat the bulls,” said A. Alagu, who has been rearing the temple bull for 25 years.