Madurai

It takes sustained hard work, patience to be a bull tamer

Locked in horns: A bull and a tamer testing the endurance of each other at the jallikattu in Palamedu on Monday.

Locked in horns: A bull and a tamer testing the endurance of each other at the jallikattu in Palamedu on Monday.   | Photo Credit: S. James

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Seasoned tamers talk about their arena experience and aspirations on the sidelines of the jallikattu in Palamedu

R. Karthi is hailed as a ‘veeran’ (warrior) by his friends and family. This 23-year-old has been taming bulls for six years now and says that he has enough experience to differentiate the wrath of each bull. At the jallikattu event in Palamedu on Monday, the participant won accolades for his tactful taming of bulls. He attributes it to practice.

According to this farmer from Mettupatti, he works in the field for eight hours and later practises with bulls in his village for two hours. He follows a strict diet starting from the month of Margazhi in December and avoids meat and substances. “It takes a lot of hard work and patience to understand the way a bull behaves. Though it is unpredictable most of the time, one can understand the pulse of the animal,” he says.

Karthi is one of the several hundred participants in this year’s event. He enters the arena with 99 others, sharing a fervour similar to his.

According to Collector K. Veera Raghava Rao, participants were divided into teams of 100 this year to avoid injuries.

Karthi says this has helped in boosting the performance of players. He also appreciates the barricade arrangement. “Earlier, anyone could enter the arena and participate. It led to many getting injured. The spectators were limited because people were afraid of bulls running haywire. All this has changed for the better,” he says.

Karthi’s lineage is filled with victorious bull tamers. His grandfather, father and uncles have all participated in the sport. Does it add pressure to his performance? “A little bit. However, the pressure spurs me on,” he adds. For Karthi, the prizes from jallikattu are more than inducements.

“I need to win a prize so that I can take home something for my family,” says R. Parthiban, a participant from Keezhapatti. Moments before entering the arena, Parthiban tells The Hindu that the gifts from jallikattu will help raise the income the family lost when he was busy preparing for the event. “I have trained really hard this year and I hope to catch at least five bulls this time,” he says.

This is Parthiban’s third foray into the jallikattu arena and he feels that lady luck is by his side. He is also enthused by the large crowd that has gathered to witness the event. He also feels that the number of sponsors has increased this year.

“The best tamers get motorcycles and cars. Those are definitely prizes worth fighting for. The thrill of looking at a bull in the eye and holding on to it for those few seconds can turn my life around,” he says.

Parthiban, like many others, stretches, claps his hands, enters the arena and dissolves into game.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 12:12:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/it-takes-sustained-hard-work-patience-to-be-a-bull-tamer/article22447016.ece

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