Pongal, the harvest festival celebrated by Tamils across the globe, came a week early this year for the people of Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province, which scripted history on Saturday by organising the first-ever Jallikattu, a bull taming sport, outside T…
The event, which was organised by Eastern Province Governor Senthil Tondaman and the Tourism Bureau, saw the participation of over 200 bulls and 100 bull tamers. Hundreds of people queued up at the Sambur public playground in Trincomalee, the capital of Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province, as early as 7 am to catch a glimpse of jallikattu for the first time in person.
Thondaman flagged off the event after which a temple bull was the first to be released via the vaadivaasal into the playground as tens of young men jostled with each other to tame the bull. Over 200 bulls decorated with flowers, including at least half a dozen raised by Tondaman’s family, were released into the ground one by one with winners returned home with plenty of prices like mixer grinders, rice cookers, and ceiling fans among other household appliances and items.
Vaadivaasal is a narrow passage from where the bulls are let into the ground to be tamed by men. Though ethnic Tamils and plantation Tamils, whose forefathers were taken from several parts of Tamil Nadu to work in coffee and tea plantations in Sri Lanka by the British, celebrate Pongal every year but jallikattu was never part of the harvest festival.