The entire state is gearing up to celebrate jallikattu in a grandiose manner. But, villagers in and around Vazhapadi in Salem district are not jubilant about the festival as the forest department has banned the conduct of ‘fox jallikattu’, that has been celebrated by them for centuries.
It is a unique ritual where the villagers trap a fox from the jungles by snaring to hold the ‘Vanganari’ jallikattu during Pongal.
Though foxes fall under the Wildlife Protection Act, the villagers have been playing the ‘sport’ for ages out of belief that waking up on a fox face would bring good fortune.
The fox is usually paraded on the streets amid cheers by villagers and children, who gather up in front of their houses. The mouth of the fox is gagged to prevent the animal from biting onlookers.
The hind legs of the fox would also be tied with a rope, before letting it off on the grounds to be caught by men in the gathering. After the ritual, the fox would be set free into the jungles. The ‘Fox Jallikattu’ used to be held with much fanfare by people in villages such as Chinnamanaickenpalayam, Kottavadi, Periyakrishnapuram, Chinnakrishnapuram and other neighbouring regiions.
The Forest Department enforced a ban on the event after Supreme Court ruled against it.
Villagers had earlier organised the event defying the ban. However, this time, the forest department has warned the villagers of strict action for any act of violation.
“Violators will face up to seven years of imprisonment under the Wildlife Protection Act. The forest department has also increased vigil in the forests to prevent foxes being caught for the conduct of the event,” said A Periasamy, Attur Forest Range Officer.
Public can inform the officials on any violations at: 9443915548, 8668077052 and 04282-235567.