The birth of the Tamil New Year on Saturday marks the beginning of ‘jallikattu' (bull taming sport) events in southern districts.

The traditional sport, being conducted under the provisions of Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act 2009 and watchful eyes of the Animal Welfare Board of India and officials of Revenue, Animal Husbandry and Police departments, kick-starts at Avaniapuram near here on Saturday.

From mid-January till the end of February, jallikattu is organised in temple and church festivals in Madurai, Sivaganga, Dindigul and Theni districts. As many as 574 bulls have so far been registered for the three bull taming events to be held at Avaniapuram (January 15), Palamedu (January 16) and Alanganallur (January 17) in Madurai district.

Thirteen animals have been registered for the Siravayal (January 17) and Kannupatti (January 19) events in Sivaganga district. No registration has come up for the event to be held in eight places in Dindigul and two in Theni districts. Here the sport forms part of St. Thomas festival celebration during February. A decision on conducting the event would be taken at a meeting of residents of the respective villages.

Regional Director of Animal Husbandry Khaja Mohideen said, “As per guidelines, all the applicants [in Madurai district] have submitted 16 copies of photographs of participating bulls in four different postures, accompanied by a demand draft for Rs.500 for each animal, fitness certificate and no-objection certificate from the owner of the bull.”

Out of the 574 bulls, 10 are from Sivaganga district, six from Thanjavur and the rest are from Madurai district. Apart from stationing emergency ambulance vehicles at the spot, a mini-dispensary consisting of 30 to 40 veterinary doctors would be on duty to examine the bulls at the venue.

Madurai Collector C. Kamaraj, along with Superintendent of Police M. Manohar, addressed a couple of meetings with jallikattu organisers and urged them to follow the Supreme Court guidelines. To ensure that arrangements are in place, Mr. Kamaraj inspected all the three venues on Friday.

Inspector General of Police S.S. Krishnamoorthy said that 1,200 police personnel would be deployed at all the three venues. Exclusive gallery and barricades for visiting foreigners and general public are being made at Palamedu and Alanganallur.

“We are geared to conduct the event successfully,” Samayanallur sub-division DSP M. Suruli Raja said.

Unhappy with norms

Bull owners have been preparing their animals for the event for about a month now. But some of the guidelines and rules have dampened their spirits. To start with, the organisers are required to deposit Rs.2 lakh for conducting the event.

K. R. Murugan, an organiser in Madurai, has suggested involvement of insurance companies to fulfil this obligation. Imposing conditions on the traditional sport would lead to its “slow death,” he stated in a memorandum to the Collector.

Bull owners of Sanarpatti and Natham in Dindigul district have demanded the withdrawal of registration fee of Rs.500.

They point out that the five-page application for registration, which asks for fax number and e-mail id of the applicant and pre and post-event fitness certificates, is in English.