Representative image
Representative image

Young men rev up training to take on mighty bulls

Veerapandi village near Madurai city was humming, young men training hard to succeed as ace tamers in the bull taming sport Jallikattu.

MADURAI: Every time the bull was released into the sporting arena, she pushed her tail between her hind legs and raised her ears. The milch cow, tethered to a tree, pretty close to the arena was apparently apprehensive and perhaps afraid as the bull repeatedly charged at her. Veerapandi village near Madurai city was humming, young men training hard to succeed as ace tamers in the bull taming sport Jallikattu.

Under the watchful eyes of master trainers, ‘Mudakkathan’ Mani and ‘Police’ Vinoth, the young men learn the significance of sharp reflexes and the appropriate methods to hold on to a bull’s hump to ensure that there is no injury to man and animal. Workout sessions are now relatively more intense.

The ‘Vadi,’ entry point to the makeshift sporting arena in the village was abuzz with youths and bulls raring to go and little ones huddling on a platform under a large tree to cheer the trainees.

A few men line up on both sides of the Vadi, ready to make a soft jump onto the animal. “Lower your left hand a little below the hump and have a watch over your legs too,” Mani shouts at Sriram Marudhupandi, a college student.

The youth, who managed to get to the hump could not sustain the brief success as the bull eventually gave the youth the slip and he tripped and fell to the ground with a thud.

“Adjusting the position of the hand very fast is important to avoid injury. If the bull turns its neck, its horn may pierce or hit the tamer badly,” Mani, a veteran bull tamer, who has successfully tamed over 3,500 bulls over a span of about 25 years told PTI.

“The tamer’s legs should not go too close to the animal’s legs. The aspirant’s knees must bend slightly backwards as and when needed.”

When Karthikeyan, a 28-year-old bank employee, inadvertently took a step ahead of the animal, Vinoth screams, asking him to run beside the bull.

“Careful man, go on the side of the animal, run parallelly, eyes on its hump for a good embrace,” Vinoth, who has tamed 2,000-plus bulls, instructs the youth. He is a regular participant in Jallikattu for the past over 20 years. A Grade-I police constable, he trains young men during his leisure.

Mani and Vinoth also act like ‘bulls’ and teach the importance of not touching the horn or tail.

To a question on learning, Mani and Vinoth, both in their late 30s say in unison: “The baby step in learning to tame a bull is to rear it. We give bull calves to aspirants for the purpose of rearing. Slowly, they need to have love for animals and of course, perseverance and courage.”

“This is the start of a long drawn process to develop an emotional connect to the bull and understand its body language, which is fundamental to a harmonious relationship,” they say.

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