Ruling party's `influence' spoils the mood of visitors this year T-shirts of contestants had a subtle message
MADURAI: `Jallikattu', organised as part of the `Pongal' festival, is more than a ritual for the people of Alanganallur.
The village bustled with life on the day of the event. The public address system blared out an old popular number, which tested the pride of the valorous youth, challenging them to near the ferocious bull.
The decibel reached such a level that the song could be heard two kilometres away from Alanganallur.
All along the approach road to the arena palm leaf festoons invited the visitors to the internationally acclaimed event.
This time around one could also see giant hoardings of leaders of the ruling party at the entrance to the venue.
As the event got off to an electrifying start, the owners of bulls were honoured with dhotis and towels.
Successful contestants were also given dhotis and T-shirts.
But what irked them were the borders on the dhotis, which had the ruling party colours.
The T-shirts had the faces of top leaders of the ruling party printed on them.
Some of the spectators too wore these T-shirts, which made things difficult for law enforcing agencies to distinguish the contestant from the spectator, as the officials made special arrangements to distribute T-shirts, with numbers inscribed, to all the registered contestants.
While steps were initiated to prevent spectators from entering the arena, some of them were seen walking into the play field through the exit point.
The district administration had to depute a team led by a Deputy Collector to stop the inflow of onlookers.
As usual, foreign visitors were left scrambling for space in the gallery earmarked for them.
Most of the ringside seats were occupied by influential personalities. Owners of the houses opposite the `Vadi Vasal' (narrow entry gate) charged spectators around Rs.500 to witness the event.