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Alternatives for Jallikattu in Namakkal District

Recent restrictions aimed at regulating the conduct of jallikattu have slowed down the sport in this district, but interestingly, people have easily adapted to other sports and games during the Pongal season and following weeks.

A section of the crowd comprising nearly 6,000 youth, men, women and children alike that was witnessing a rekla race (horse cart race) in Mohanur recently said that they wanted to see animals in action and did not mid witnessing a series of horse races, than jallikattu in which the onlookers had the risk of getting attacked.

The race had participation of nearly 50 horses in different categories – amateur, small and big horse categories – different parts of Namakkal and neighbouring districts such as Salem, Erode, Karur, Trichy and Dharmapuri.

The organizers said that they did not want to organise a similar race with bulls, bearing in mind the safety concerns of the onlookers.

In addition to thousands who thronged the starting point there was remarkable response from the onlookers throughout the race track that ran for about 10 kilometres.

Local Congress Party representatives who organized the race said that a similar race would be organised by another group by the end of February.

Safe animal games such as cockfighting and ‘manju virattu’ (chasing the cow and catching it) were also conducted in many villages.

District Collector S. Madumathi told The Hindu that this year organizers from Alanganatham have approached the district administration for conducting jallikattu, but were yet to make the caution deposit of Rs. 2 lakh, without which they would not be able to conduct the sport.

They had also produced 52 bulls that would possibly participate in the jallikattu field of which 49 have been qualified by the Animal Welfare Board.

According to her there has not been a craving for the sport that used to be organized at Alanganatham and Pottireddypatti villages.

While only about 50 youth came forward to control the bulls, the crowd strength has been only around 5,000 against manifold crowds that thronged the venue in Southern districts.

Last year a total 19 persons sustained injuries while attempting to control the bulls, but nobody has been killed in jallikattu in this district for many years, she said.

The Collector stated that on the other hand there has been tremendous response from women who took part in the various Pongal competitions that were organized by the Mahalir Thittam.

She pointed out that nearly 3,000 women took part in the block and district level rangoli, debate, dance and singing competitions which is as much as 50 percent more than nearly 2,000 participants for the competitions in 2010.

There was better local crowd to encourage them she said and added that this was a positive sign from the public towards safer games.



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