Indian participants try to control a bull during the annual 'Jallikattu' bulltaming festival in the village of Palamedu on the outskirts of Madurai, India, on Jan. 15, 2018. (Arun Sankar/AFP/Getty Images)
At least five men were gored to death during an Indian festival that includes men attempting to tame bulls with their bare hands.
Bull-taming, or Jallikattu, has been practiced in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu for at least 500 years and similar customs date back perhaps thousands of years, The Hindu reported.
During Jallikattu, bulls are released into blocked-off streets or an arena, where men try to hold onto the bulls’ hind leg or the hump on their backs long enough to win a prize.
The custom is performed during the Pongal harvest festival each January and is considers a kind of a sport by the locals.
Many people get injured every year, some fatally. This year, at least 60 were injured or mauled, Fox News reported.
The custom has been opposed by animal rights activists, who say the bulls, reared specifically for Jallikattu, get unnecessarily stressed and sometimes hurt.
The federal Animal Welfare Board of India as well as activists have pushed for a ban on Jallikattu through the Indian Supreme Court, which confirmed the ban in 2014. The Environment Ministry, however, allowed the custom to continue in 2016, as long as the “bulls are treated properly and not subjected to cruelty,” Indian Express wrote. A week later, the Supreme Court upheld the ban.
But locals continued the custom anyway, leading to hundreds of arrests, Hindustan Times reported.
In 2017, after numerous protests, the Governor and legislature of Tamil Nadu exempted Jallikattu from animal cruelty law, The Times of India reported.
The custom is now more regulated. Both the bulls and the tamers need to be registered with the government and it’s not allowed to intoxicate or torture the bulls in order to make them more aggressive, Firstpost reported. Animal rights activists still demand a complete ban.
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