Twenty-two persons, including a constable, were injured in the jallikattu held amid tight security at Palamedu near here on Tuesday.

Five of them, who suffered serious injuries, have been referred to Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai. A spectator, R. Ramu (23) of Alanganallur, who sustained injuries in his abdomen when a bull ran amok, is undergoing treatment at the GRH.

As always, more spectators were injured than tamers: among the 22 injured persons, 13 were spectators. They were injured at the exit points when the bulls ran amok after the crowd tried to chase them away.

Thousands of spectators, including foreign tourists, thronged the venue to watch the traditional sport of bullfighting held as part of the Pongal festival. Hundreds of bulls from Madurai, Theni, Dindigul, Sivaganga, Salem, Pudukottai, Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Virudhunagar and Ramanathapuram districts took part in the event.

Deputy Inspector General of Police B. Bala Naga Devi inspected the arrangements at the venue. Superintendent of Police V. Balakrishnan monitored the event from inside a makeshift gallery. The District Collector and police and revenue officials were found giving instructions over the microphone on the Supreme Court guidelines for conducting the event.

The police were quick to enter the arena to remove tamers violating the guidelines. Eight bullfighters were removed after they were found pulling the tail of the animal under the influence of alcohol.

A total of 404 bulls were registered for the event and 37 rejected on medical grounds, including underage and improper registration. All the animals were subjected to medical test by veterinary surgeons led by Regional Joint Director, Animal Husbandry, P. Rajasekaran, and a team of 60 members. The participants were also asked to undergo medical test.

Double barricading was done to prevent the spectators from mingling with the participants. Government and private ambulances were stationed at vantage points.

The event started at 9 a.m. when the temple bull attached to the Mahalingasamy Podhu Madathu Committee ran down the arena. Later, seven bulls attached to different caste associations charged down the arena. Following this ritual, the actual bullfighting started exactly at 2.p.m.

The event was stopped amid furore from the local villagers who complained that 50 bulls belonging to their village were still waiting in queue for their turn.

The successful tamers went home with gold coins, almirahs, mixers, wire cots, mobile phones, utensils and bicycles. Owners whose bulls went untamed were also given prizes.

A handful of raging bulls gave the tamers a tough time and teased them with their majestic run down the gauntlet and, all of a sudden, turning back and running towards the tamers, who took cover. A few bulls were reluctant to move out of the ‘vaadivaasal’ (entry point), overcome by fear and anxiety seeing the large crowd of tamers.

The village wore a festive look and it was bucolic culture at its best.