Jallikattu, a bull-taming sport played during Pongal festival in Tamil Nadu, turned fatal when a 19-year-old man bled to death during the game in Madurai on Monday.
Despite foolproof arrangements, some spectators came in the way of a running bull near the collection point, nearly half a kilometre from the playing area, and were injured. According to police, more than 28 people were injured including six who suffered injuries and remain being treated at the hospital.
The deceased, S Kalimuthu, was a participant in the first round of the event and was attacked by a bull at the collection point few minutes before the event concluded. "Kalimuthu was out after his turn in the event and he was playing with the bull outside the arena in an open space when the bull attacked him," Madurai collector Veera Raghava Rao said.
The district administration had overlooked the arrangements and the event closely through the day and had deployed a dozen of medical and veterinary teams with ambulances at the venue. The ring and corridors through which the bulls ran out were barricaded to keep the non participants at a distance and ensure public safety. Kalimuthu, who was injured when the bull's horns pierced through him was taken to a nearby hospital but was declared brought dead.
The incident raises questions on public safety during the sport despite a double barricade separating the arena from the gallery. Around 1,200 bulls were used and an equal number of policemen were posted to guard against any accident. On Sunday, around 79 people, including spectators, were injured in this year's first Jallikattu at Avaniyapuram, also in Madurai.
Jallikattu is a sport that involves taming a bull. The bull is released into a crowd of people and the participants try to hold on to its hump or horns. The event is celebrated on Mattu Pongal, which is the third day of the popular harvest festival.
The tradition derives its name from the Tamil words "salli" which means coins and "kattu" which means package. This refers to the prize of coins that is tied to the horns of the bulls, which participants try to retrieve.
If the taming attempt is unsuccessful, the bull's owner takes home the prize.
The Supreme Court had banned Jallikattu in 2014 after animal rights activists said it constitutes extreme animal cruelty. After massive protests, Tamil Nadu enacted a law last year to bypass the apex court's ruling.