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A Jallikattu spectator died of heart attack near Madhurai and more than 40 bull tamers were injured at the bull taming sport held across Tamil Nadu on Thursday as part of Pongal festivities that began on January 15.

At the bustling hamlet of Alanganallur, a popular venue for Jallikattu, a 45-year-old man in the spectators’ gallery died of heart attack, police said, adding that about 40 bull tamers were injured.

A total of 729 bulls were used in the event watched even by foreigner tourists.

An Indo-Tibetan Border Police team along with 1,500 other police personnel were deployed at the Jallikattu event.

Tamil Nadu minister RP Udhayakumar inaugurated the Jallikattu event by flagging off the release of a bull from its pen. 

He unveiled a memorial slab for Jallikattu at Alanganallur on Thursday. He also said a memorial would soon be built to honour the pro-Jallikattu protests.

Gifts worth lakhs of rupees were given to those who succeeded in taming the bulls and to bull owners whose animals could not be tamed.

The events were also held at several locations in the state including Avarangadu in Tiruchirappalli), Pudukottai, Karur and Dindigul.

Other rural sporting events like bullock cart rallies were also held in several villages.

Usually, temple bulls are first sent through the ‘Vaadi Vasal’, the entrance to the sporting arena, as part of prayers for a good harvest and prosperity and in keeping with tradition such animals are not caught by the tamers.

Several events centred on rural sports and folk arts were also held across Tamil Nadu by the tourism department as part of Pongal celebrations.

Jallikattu remained banned following a Supreme Court order in May 2014 before the Tamil Nadu government in 2017 introduced an ordinance to facilitate its conduct amid massive protests at several places in the state.

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