Eastern Province makes history with inaugural Jallikattu during early Pongal celebration
January 07, Colombo (LNW): The harvest festival of Pongal, traditionally celebrated by Tamils worldwide, unfolded a week early this year in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province, India’s Karnataka-based Deccan Herald reported.
The region made history by hosting its inaugural Jallikattu, a bull-taming sport, marking a significant departure from its roots in Tamil Nadu.
Eastern Province Governor Senthil Tondaman and the Tourism Bureau orchestrated the event, drawing the participation of over 200 bulls and 100 bull tamers.
Enthusiasts began queuing up at Trincomalee’s Sambur public playground as early as 7 am to witness the spectacle firsthand.
Thondaman inaugurated the event, where a temple bull was the first to charge through the vaadivaasal into the arena, prompting a flurry of young men attempting to tame it.
More than 200 adorned bulls, including those raised by Tondaman’s family, were successively released, with victorious tamers rewarded with household appliances such as mixer grinders, rice cookers, and ceiling fans.
Vaadivaasal, the narrow passage through which bulls enter for taming, facilitated the smooth progression of the event.
Although ethnic and plantation Tamils celebrate Pongal annually, Jallikattu has not traditionally been part of the harvest festival. This marked the first occurrence of the sport in Sri Lanka.
P Mathan, Chairman of the Eastern Province Tourism Bureau, revealed that over 5,000 participants engaged in the historic Jallikattu event.
Experts from Tamil Nadu and members of the Jallikattu Protection Committee collaborated with local organisers, ensuring the event’s successful execution, with the Animal Husbandry department overseeing the bulls’ fitness for participation.
Jallikattu, celebrated with fervor in various Tamil Nadu districts during the Tamil month of Thai (mid-January to mid-February), took on a novel dimension in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province this year.