CHENNAI: Farm fresh grass rolls, a big bucket full of rice bran and husk of black and red gram with plenty of water! These are among the 'delicacies' that figure in the 'special diet plan' for bulls that are being trained for the bull taming sport, 'Jallikattu.'
A big pack of hay and fodder made of cotton seed and corn are part of the other items of food provided to bulls. Such food items, neatly divided into 'three square meals' a day are provided to bulls in the morning, afternoon and evening.
Sundaravalli, a cowherd with hands-on experience in cattle farming says the diet plan is designed to ensure nutritious food to bulls. ''We provide nutritious food at all times.
However, now we go the extra mile to ensure nutrition as Jallikattu is nearing and bulls need to be physically more strong.''
''The first full meal is at 9.30 AM when we provide a full, big bucket of rice bran and a roll of hay,'' she says. Also, farm fresh grass and plenty of water is ensured at all times.
The next meal, by 3 PM comprises 'Makkacholam' (Corn), 'Paruthi Vidhai' (Cotton seed cake), 'Nel Thavidu' (Rice bran) and 'Ulundu-Thuvaram doosi' (husk of black and red gram). Bran obtained from 'Pachha nellu' (Raw rice bran) and Puzhunga nellu (Boil rice bran) is alternately used.
The next food in the evening is light and it is a 'good combo' of what was provided in the morning and afternoon, she says.
''We also provide Thavidu Thanneer (bran mixed water) on and off. The workout for bulls, which includes taking them for pretty long walks, running and swimming make them super fit and it ensures good appetite.''
As she prepares 'bran meal,' a pair of 'Uzhavu madu' (bulls used only for farming purposes) rushes ahead to partake of the food. Jallikattu bulls 'Rana,' 'Rudra' 'Aacha' and others enjoy the sumptuous meal !
Sundaravalli's husband Marimuthu, a herdsman, promptly arrives to help her feed the cattle. After feeding them, the duo double up as 'physicians' and gently touch the ears of bulls.
''We try to ascertain if the warmth is normal or not. In case there is a fever, we could feel the extra-warmth.'' After noticing that a bull had comparatively less feed, they quickly prepare a fine mix of 'Vetrilai' (Piper betel) and 'Milagu' (Black pepper-Piper nigrum) and push it into the animal's mouth.
''If such simple home remedies do not yield results we take the advice of doctors.'' Quoting veterinarians, she says the food they provide to bulls has all the nutrients including proteins that animals need.
Traditionally, Jallikattu commences in the Tamil month of Thai (starts in January and ends in February) and goes on for at least 3-4 months. It is held in various parts of the State.
The star attractions are, however, those held in Alanganallur, Palamedu and Avaniapuram in Madurai district.
On December 8, 2022, the Supreme Court reserved order on petitions against the bull taming sport. The top court had said that Jallikattu cannot be termed a blood sport as nobody is using any weapon and the blood may only be an incidental thing.