Express News Service
MADURAI: Though the COVID-19 pandemic reared it’s ugly head up once again in the State this year, prompting the government to impose a stricter lockdown, the first jallikattu event of this Pongal season in Madurai began successfully at Avaniyapuram on Friday morning, albeit, with restrictions.
Commercial Taxes and Registration minister P Moorthy and Finance Minister PTR Palanivel Thiagarajan, in the presence of Lok Sabha MP Su Venkatesan and District Collector S Aneesh Sekhar, flagged off the event at around 7.30 am, after the latter administered the mandatory oath to the tamers.
Due to the surge in COVID-19 and Omicron cases, the state government decided to permit only a limited number of spectators – 150 persons or 50 percent occupancy, whichever is less.
As many as 4,554 bull owners and 2,001 tamers have registered for the three-day jallikattu event in Madurai-Kollam Avaniyapuram, Palamedu and Alanganallur. But only 700 bulls and 300 tamers would be allowed to take part in the event, which is expected to continue till 3 pm.
They would be selected through randomisation and would be issued a slip containing QR code. Totally 10 rounds would be taking place today, with each round lasting for one hour. About 30 tamers, who have taken double dose vaccination and have COVID negative certificate, would be permitted for each round. Bull owners could bring only one helper and both should satisfy the same conditions.
In order to prevent any untoward incidents and to ensure that the COVID-19 restrictions are followed, the city police have deployed around 1,000 police personnel at several points in the area. Also, 10 medical teams have been posted at various points. A veterinary team of 11 members are said to be in-charge of the medical examination of bulls.
As of 9:30 am, two rounds had been completed and around 130 bulls had been released into the arena, sources said. Atleast 11 persons including five tamers, five bull owners and a spectator, were reportedly injured at the end of the second round, they added.
The bull owners and tamers would be rewarded adequately this year as well. The best bull tamer would be gifted a new car while the owner of the best bull would receive a two wheeler. Other prizes include gold and silver coins, grinder, washing machine, television set and other electronic devices, mobile phones, bicycles among others.