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Jallikattu all set for a grand revival this Pongal

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The jallikattu protests early this year have changed the general outlook towards the traditional sport and it appears to be having a lot more followers now, going by the massive, hectic preparations across the central and southern districts for the events during Pongal next month.
Bogged down by legal hurdles and a ban on the sport for the past two years, the events were not being conducted. Now that they are in the clear, the bull owners and tamers are at it with renewed vigour, with just two weeks to go for the events.
The jallikattu bulls are being trained and are put on a special diet. At least 4,500 jallikattu bulls in the central districts, mostly from Pudukkottai, Trichy, and Ariyalur, preparations are being trained for the events.
"Swimming once in a week would improve the stability of the bulls, apart from enhancing their ability to breathe without trouble when surrounded by tamers. Such practise would assist the bull to stand and face the tamers furiously for a long span," M Mookan, a jallikattu bull owner from Olaiyur, said.
Besides, the bulls would be made to stand in the sun for a couple of hours every day at least two months ahead of the event to keep the animal brisk. They would also be made to pierce a pile of soil with its horns for honing its skill to ward off tamers. An exclusive diet for the jallikattu bulls plays a crucial role in keeping the animal fit. A mix of cotton seed, broken toor dal, and chickpea soaked in water for more than five hours would be fed to the bull every morning.

With as many as nine villages gearing to host events in Trichy between January 14 and February 11, bull owners said prizes were not their target, but the tradition and pride of seeing their bull charging through a pack of bull tamers outside vaadivasal.
In the southern districts, attractive prizes like Bullet motorbikes and cars, a trend which started at Alanganallur and Palamedu in the jallikattu events last year, have added zing to the coming festivities. Earlier, it used to be just bikes, mobile phones, cycles and steel cupboards. The scenario has changed after the jallikattu protests, as bigger commercial establishments are sponsoring the prizes.
R Vimalraj from Pannaikudi village near Alanganallur, who was adjudged the best bull tamer at the Alanganallur jallikattu by the district administration, said this year there are many young persons who want to take part in the events.
"In the past few months I have been teaching budding tamers the nuances of the sport. There are many new bull owners now and they are eagerly seeking ways to prepare their bulls for the events," he said.

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