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Jallikattu bulls go for a pittance

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MADURAI, May 21, 2014                      Updated: May 21, 2014 03:05 IST

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A jallikattu bull being loaded onto a lorry at the Vadipatti shandi on Tuesday after it was sold for a meagre sum. Photo: S. James

They used to fetch their owners over Rs. 1 lakh before the sport was banned

The ferocious bulls of Madurai district, who stalked jallikattu arenas like champions, are now boarding goods vehicles on their way to slaughterhouses.

K. Karupasamy’s family of Ilamanur has been rearing jallikattu bulls for several generations. On Tuesday, Mr. Karupasamy sold his bull at the Vadipatti weekly shandy for a paltry Rs. 22,000.

The sale of these bulls normally fetched more than Rs. 1 lakh until the Supreme Court banned the traditional sport. Since then, the Vadipatti shandi has witnessed a surge in the number of jallikattu bulls, also called Naattu Maddu, being sold to agents, who take them to slaughterhouses. “My bull had won nearly 15 prizes in jallikattu held in Madurai and Tiruchi districts. When the future of the sport itself is bleak, what is the point of rearing bulls?” Mr. Karupasamy said, parting with his proud possession.

V. Veluchamy, a bull tamer from Sakkimangalam, sold the bull that he had been rearing for eight years for Rs. 25,000 on Tuesday.

“I had three bulls, and I have sold all of them after the Supreme Court’s order. It is distressing to sell them, given that they have done me proud, winning several prizes in manjuvirattu, (another form of bull taming). The only reason for selling the bulls is high rearing cost,” he said.

According to bull rearers, they have to spend between Rs. 300 and Rs. 500 on each bull every day for fodder and maintenance.

With jallikattu’s future uncertain, the rearers were reluctant to expend anything on the animals they dearly brought up, said R. Sundarapandian, a van driver, who has been transporting bulls to the shandi of late.

Agents like S. Annakodi bought bulls from rearers in villages of Madurai and brought them to the shandi for sale.

“The maximum amount that could be got from the sale of a jallikattu bull for slaughter is Rs. 35,000. No one has ever sold the bulls for slaughter when there was no ban,” he said.

The fierce bulls were seen being manhandled by agents and transporters at the shandy to get them to board the lorries. “Most of them would be taken to Kerala for slaughter. If there is no jallikattu, they will be of no use,” said C. Thirumalai Nambi Rajan, another agent.

This news article has been reproduced from “The Hindu” (Online edition) – dated  May 21, 2014.