Madurai: It's Pongal and this is the season of Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu. While those in many districts of the state are busy organising the event during the festival, bull calves are being nurtured for the sport of young boys in town.

Palakkuvadi Jallikattu is a sport that is practised in many villages where calves are trained for such events. The youngsters, who grew up watching their ancestors taming bulls, begin to rehearse with the calf, while improving their skills along with the animal.

While the heads of villages visit neighbouring towns and invite people to watch the grand sport being organised, the boys and calves are busy with Palakkuvadi Jallikattu at village tanks, temple land or cow shelters. Just like the Jallikattu where the bull enters from the vadivasal (the opening gate), this smaller version too has a similar entry point to the jallikattu arena.

Sundar Rajan, Jallikattu organiser in Alanganallur, one of the key villages known for the sport in Madurai, is all set for the event on January 17. He follows a hectic schedule as he prepares the space to host 50,000 people with 800 bull tamers, who will participate from 8 AM to 4 PM. "The preparations began a month in advance. The tamers rehearse for the sport. The bulls are nurtured and trained. The animals are taught to swim to improve their core strength. The locals give them healthy food. At least about a hundred families in our village are proud owners of such bulls."

Sundar Rajan said that the very next day, the Pakkuvadi Jallikattu is held so that the young boys are encouraged to turn into great bull tamers of the future.

In 2017, this traditional sport of Tamil Nadu was embroiled in controversy where a sea of protesters thronged the Marina Beach in Chennai fighting the ban imposed by the Supreme Court, which prompted the state legislature to pass a bi-partisan bill to overturn the ban.