Running with the bulls
During the Pongal festival in January 2021, when people were still taking tentative steps into large gatherings, I had the opportunity to spend a day witnessing the festivities at a village in Krishnagiri in Tamilnadu. It was the occasion of ‘maattu pongal’, the most important of the festive days for the villagers. People decorated their cattle and offered the ‘padayal’ to the sun god. The day ended with the much anticipated ‘maadu ottam’ or a bull-run. The event was witnessed by hundreds of onlookers from nearby villages all along the main street, with many perched precariously on top of buildings and tractors. Unlike 'jallikattu', where only specially trained bulls are made to compete, in this 'maadu ottam’ event, bulls used in farming too, joined the run along with a few trained ones. Youngsters ran along trying to tame the bulls in an event that was not without its risks along with the rewards.