11:34 GMT24 January 2020
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    India's Supreme Court bans bull event

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    NEW DELHI, January 11 (RIA Novosti) - India's Supreme Court has banned jalikattu, a popular traditional bull sport in southern India that has long been opposed by animal rights activists, national media said on Friday.

    The traditional sport, first mentioned in third-century AD Indian manuscripts, is a part of the four-day Pongal festival, an annual harvest holiday. Bulls are usually released in a large open space and participants pull prizes from their horns.

    It is also a religious ceremony for Indian villagers, one often linked with prosperity and welfare.

    "If the jallikattu is not held, this village will have difficult times, disease and so on," the NDTV TV channel quoted residents of the Madurai village as saying.

    Although bulls are not killed in the event, organizers are accused by animal rights activists of torturing bulls before the competition to make them more ferocious. The Animal Welfare Board of India says bulls are given alcohol, have their tails broken and their eyes smeared with chili pepper or lemon juice beforehand.

    Authorities say that although special safety measures have been introduced, Jalikattu remains dangerous for participants and spectators, as bulls often hurtle into the crowd. In 2007, one person was killed and 65 injured during an event.

    Jalikattu was banned in 2004, but resumed in 2006 after a higher court ruling to introduce additional security measures and alcohol tests for bulls taking part in the ceremony.

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