Madurai, Jan 16: The ban on traditional bull taming sport 'Jallikattu' dampened the Pongal festive spirit in parts of rural Tamil Nadu especially in the district where the event used to attract thousands of people, including foreigners, as locals hoisted black flags atop their premises as a mark of protest today.
Tension prevailed in Palamedu and Alanganallur, two of the famous venues for the traditional sport, with shops remaining closed and buildings sporting black flags as residents were upset Jallikattu could not be held this year in view of the ban imposed by the Supreme Court last May.
Police said pickets had been posted in the two villages and elsewhere to prevent any untoward incident. With Tamil Nadu government making a last-ditch effort by writing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to remove bulls from the list of performing animals to pave the way for conduct of jallikattu, locals nurtured some hope.
But they were disappointed on learning that they would have to miss their favourite sport held across several towns especially in Madurai and Sivaganga districts as part of harvest festival Pongal. Jallikattu was slated to be held in Avaniyapuram yesteday, Palamedu today and Alanganallur tomorrow.
A downcast resident of Palamedu reminisced that 800 bulls and about 1,000 tamers from across the state would be seen in action during the Jallikattu in the village every year.
This is one of the important occasions that will bring the entire locality together as the sport is an integral part of our tradition, Muthaiah, a farmer, said. Although, the neighbour, Alanganallur is world famous for jallikattu, Palamedu holds a special place among bull taming enthusiasts.
The Supreme Court last year banned using bulls for Jallikattu events or bullock-cart races across the country and directed governments and Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) to take steps to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals.
It had said all living creatures, including animals, have inherent dignity and a right to live peacefully and right to protect their well-being.