The Centre is set to allow popular bull taming sport Jallikattu and a few other bullock races in the new year, with Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar saying on Monday the government will let such cultural practices continue while ensuring that animals are not subjected to cruelty.

“Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu, bullock cart race in Maharashtra, Kambala in Karnataka and some sort of race using bullocks in Punjab has been traditionally and culturally practiced for centuries. We want to respect that but also ensure that there should be no cruelty.

Cultural practice

“Therefore, we will give you good news in the next couple of days. We will give you good news so that the cultural practice can be followed as well as cruelty should not happen to animals.

“We have found out some ways and will announce by January 1. The government is positive on the issue,” Javadekar told reporters.

These events involving animals will be permitted to continue “for sometime,” he said responding to a question about these sports.

Sources, however, said the Centre is likely to issue an executive order in this regard on January 1 and the Environment Ministry had consulted with Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi on the issue.

Jallikattu. also known Eruthazhuvuthal, is a bull taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations on Mattu Pongal day.

The Supreme Court had banned using bulls for Jallikattu events or bullock-cart races across the country and directed governments and the Animal Welfare Board of India to take steps to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals.

The ban on Jallikattu has dampened Pongal festivities in the State, especially in southern districts, where it has been a popular event for centuries, and there has been demands for facilitating its conduct.

Javadekar had earlier hinted that the Centre would consider taking steps, including amending laws to allow the sport.

Busy training

Meanwhile, despite the existing ban on holding of Jallikattu, bull owners have started training their pets for the fight in south Tamil Nadu.

“We require at least one month training to get the lost touch with the game”, said Pandian, who has won medals participating in the game earlier.

Bulls also required training in the art of escaping from the clasp of their fighters and threatening the participants with their horn and ducking, he said.

He said the bulls were being given nutritious feed, trained in swimming, jumping and hopping.

“If all the training would go in vain or success would have to be decided by the government as the Supreme Court had already banned on various grounds including cruelty to animals, and spectators getting hurt,” he said.

Very few deaths

In Jallikattu, bulls are not killed. In the history of the game dating back to 3,500 years, only one or two bulls would have died, said another participant, Azhagar.

The game was held in several places including Alanganallur, Avaniapuram and Tiruvapur near Pudukottai.

People today held a procession with the Jallikattu bulls demanding that the sport be allowed this year near Manamadurai. Police had been posted at various Jallikattu venues in the State to prevent any person organising the game without permission.