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Meet the athletic native bulls of Tamil Nadu, widespread at jallikattu throughout Pongal festivities

Justice B V Nagarathna. File

A bull being bathed by its caretaker at Madakulam tank in Madurai
| Picture Credit score: MOORTHY G

Muni spends most his day ambling alongside the filth roads of Alanganallur. Everybody within the village close to Madurai, widespread for the yearly jallikattu occasion, is aware of him. He has breakfast at one home, walks over to a different when he looks like having a snack. He’s everybody’s pet, the oor kaalai or village bull that was donated to the Muniyandi temple there. He’s the primary bull to exit the vaadivaasal, the place tamers await, signaling the beginning of the yr’s jallikattu.   

“We have recorded over 45 temples in and around Madurai dedicated to such bulls,” says Dr G Sivakumar, veterinary assistant surgeon at Vilachery Veterinary Dispensary in Madurai. All of those are cattle native to the soil. Now that Pongal is right here, rearers are busy getting ready their bulls and themselves for jallikattu, a bull-taming sport held as a part of the festivities in varied locations in Tamil Nadu. Indigenous cattle take centre stage within the occasion, widespread particularly in and round Madurai.

Pulikulam and Theni hill cattle are the two varieties that are top players at jallikattu

Pulikulam and Theni hill cattle are the 2 varieties which might be prime gamers at jallikattu
| Picture Credit score:
MOORTHY G

“Pulikulam and Theni hill cattle are the two varieties that are top players at jallikattu,” says Sivakumar, who’s a part of the workforce that shall be current on the venue through the occasion. “They are known for the characteristic leap as they charge out of the vaadivaasal,” he provides. He has to date overseen bulls at 4 jallikattu occasions over the previous ten years and is inspecting the animals strolling into his clinic to acquire medical certificates, as we converse. The doc is necessary for a bull to take part within the occasion.

 At Alanganallur village near Madurai, a school girl tends to her bull

At Alanganallur village close to Madurai, a college lady tends to her bull
| Picture Credit score:
MOORTHY G

Among the many key points he checks for, other than the bull’s general physique situation, is to see if it’s a pure bred. “Ever since jallikattu picked up in popularity over the past few years, more and more youngsters are coming forward to buy native cattle,” he factors out, including: “College students in Madurai, for instance, get together to buy a calf, and pool in money to take care of it through the year. There is an increase in awareness on native cattle and their benefits.”

In accordance with Karthikeya Sivasenapathy, managing trustee of Senaapathy Kangayam Cattle Analysis Basis, a conservation and breeding centre based mostly in Tiruppur, cattle, the world over, are named after the geographic location they’re from. “We have the Ongloe in Andhra Pradesh, Khillari and Deoni in Maharashtra, and Amrit Mahal in Karnataka,” he says, including: “Indigenous to west Tamil Nadu, are the Kangayam; in East Tamil Nadu, it is Umblachery; while Pulikulam, Theni hill cattle and Alambadi are from the South.”

Karthikeya says that the evolution of native breeds is related to the tradition of the area they’re from. “Their popularity went down in the 1970s after the introduction of the Intensive Cattle Development Project,” he says. This resulted in exotics from locations corresponding to Europe getting into India to be cross bred.

Native breeds, nonetheless, are identified to be higher suited to our panorama. “They are disease resistant, and their milk is valuable due to its flavour,” says Sivakumar. Karthikeya feels that one option to enhance their inhabitants is to make them twin function, specifically milch and draught (working) animals.

Youth trying to tame a bull at a jallikattu held at Koothappar village in Tiruchi

Youth attempting to tame a bull at a jallikattu held at Koothappar village in Tiruchi
| Picture Credit score:
Moorthy M

Then, there are males who spend hundreds on their cattle’s maintenance for satisfaction and nostalgic causes. “I have seen some of them travel long distances to get their injured animal treated. Once, a jallikattu bull owner from Madurai took it to Orathanadu [in Thanjavur] for it to be operated upon to fix a plate in one of its legs,” says Sivakumar.  

Veterinary assistant surgeon Dr G Sivakumar at Vilachery Veterinary Clinic in Madurai

Veterinary assistant surgeon Dr G Sivakumar at Vilachery Veterinary Clinic in Madurai
| Picture Credit score:
ASHOK R

At the same time as you learn this, native bulls and cows throughout Tamil Nadu are gearing up for his or her yearly deal with throughout Pongal. “In Alanganallur, all the bulls in the village will gather on a road behind the vaadivaasal a day before Pongal,” says M Malar Mannan, a bull rearer and jallikattu champion from the village. “A person from the headman’s family will tie a shawl around the bulls’ horns and offer them fruits and pongal,” he says. They may lounge on the highway all dressed up, proudly displaying their muscular humps — a characteristic distinctive to native cattle.  

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Written by Akila Kannadasan

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