I walked in with the south page dummy to the cabin of the chief of news bureau of our paper. He had two slots to fill, both on Jayalalithaa, with a total of 630 words. And below the two slots and the picture was a meagre 210-word slot, supposed to carry the Madurai copy on Alanganallur Jallikattu.
He glanced at the A3 sheet.
“Why this small slot for Jallikattu?”
“Sir, Ma’am said that we have had carried several Jallikattu copies for the last few days.”
There was a copy the day before on the Palamedu Jallikattu, a smaller one, held as a prelude to the Alanganallur Jallikattu, and some more on the preparations and protests, including the petition in the Madras High Court.
“Boy, where are you from?”
“OK, understand this. For the entire southern Tamil Nadu, the Alanganallur Jallikattu is the..the,..” he paused
“The event,” I cut in.
“Yes, it is The Event. The one held yesterday in Palamedu was just a prelude. This is the big event, and one of the biggest cultural events in Tamil Nadu.”
He picked up the phone and asked the RE to give prominence to the story.
Dummy changes, and the story gets a 300 word slot, with a picture inside.
Here are the pictures from the world famous Alanganallur Jallikattu. The pictures and the text is borrowed from the copy filed by our Madurai correspondent.
The jallikattu held in the Alanganallur village near Madurai on Wednesday, was a “regulated” sport this year with lesser number of bulls and more men participating in this event. Safety measures taken to segregate the crowds resulted in lesser number of injuries. As many as 120 foreign tourists also witnessed in the event.
The sleepy hamlet of Alanganallur, 22 km from Madurai city, wore a festive look with coloured flags, banners and cutouts decorating every nook and corner. People began filing into the galleries, as early as 6 am, to get a vantage seat and the animals were made to stand in long queues outside the arena.
A team of veterinary surgeons conducted the eyeball test, heartbeat and breathe analyser tests for each of the animals before allowing them to enter the queue. Though 587 bulls had registered for this year’s event, only 345 animals turned up on Wednesday, of which seven were rejected because they did not pass the tests.Similar tests were conducted for the 527 men who entered the arena, wearing T-shirts given by the organisers after they passed the test.
At 11 am the special pooja was performed at the Alanganallur Muniyandi temple and the temple bull was first released into the arena after which the others followed. The animals were brightly coloured and garlanded with flowers.
Most of the prizes included gold coins, dhotis, shirts, beds and furniture. But, this time the owners of the bulls that successfully evaded the chasers bagged more prizes. Jayapandi of Kalavasal in Madurai bagged ten prizes the highest by a fighter in this game.
“More bulls bagging prizes is the result of the ban on the alcohol consumption by both the bull and man” said Marimuthu, a teacher, who has been following the event for more than 10 years. “Under the influence of alcohol, the men would try to have a brave show, increasing the risk of injuries and death. This year most of them preferred to take
the side stand when the ferocious animals were released” he said.
Due to the elaborate arrangements made at the venue, none of the spectators were injured. This was the first time that a double barricade system had been constructed at the venue. Sixty-six persons were injured, out of which six were referred to the Government Rajaji Hospital and the rest were given first aid at the venue. Over 25 doctors were kept ready to deal with any casualty.
The precautions taken by the district administration had also paid off with lesser number of persons being injured compared to previous years. The superintendent of Police T.S. Anbu made the final checks and took care of the security. Around 1000 police personnel were pressed into duty for the games. Kent, a foreign tourist who had come to see the event, said that he felt it was an “unruly” game and that more care should be taken to prevent injuries to men in the arena. Some of them said they enjoyed the whole game.