Chennai: Jallikattu, a popular bull taming sport, was on Sunday held in parts of Tamil Nadu with tens of thousands taking part but two participants were killed and several injured at one event.
The sport was held at Pudukottai, Trichy and Ramanathapuram districts while bullock cart races were organised in Coimbatore and Theni, officials said.
At Pudukottai, two bull valuters were severely injured and died on the way to a hospital, police said. Several other people were injured in the incident.
The sport involves young men latching on to the hump of bulls. One who manages to stay put even after the animal makes three jumps is declared a winner.
At times, the participants are thrown off the back of bulls or get gored by the animal. It was not clear how the deaths occurred in Pudukottai.
The events were held after week-long state-wide protests by students and youths and followed the promulgation of an ordinance by the Tamil Nadu government amending the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to hold Jallikatttu. The sport was banned by the Supreme Court in May 2014.
But Jallikattu did not take place in Alanganallur in Madurai district as no preparation had been done there.
Attempts to hold the event at Natham Kovilpatti in Dindigul district failed due to protests against Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam's wish to flag it off.
Speaking in Madurai on his way to Chennai, the Chief Minister said: "Jallikattu is being held at several places in the state. At Alanganallur it will be held when the people want it.
"Jallikattu cannot be stopped by anybody," Panneerselvam added.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to assist his government in its efforts to hold Jallikattu.
The government will on Monday place in the assembly a bill for holding Jallikattu. It is expected to pass with majority support.
Meanwhile, the massive youth protest in Chennai's Marina Beach entered its seventh day on Sunday. Some young people fainted at the venue owing to severe sun.
The protest that started with a handful of a people on January 17 morning is now attracting lakhs.
DMK leader M.K. Stalin urged Panneerselvam to explain to the demonstrators the steps the government will take so that there will not be any more legal impediments for the conduct of Jallikatttu.
The Supreme Court in 2014 banned Jallikattu, saying that bulls cannot be used as performing animals including in bullock cart races.
Since then, people have been urging the central government to take steps to allow the sport.
On Sunday, R. Arul of Pasumai Thayagam, a Tamil group, told IANS: "All that the central government has to do is to remove the bull from the list of performing animals in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Is issuing a notification such a big issue?"
Despite Jallikattu being held in parts of Tamil Nadu, many do not hide their anger vis-a-vis the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Modi and Panneerselvam.
The anger against PETA is the most severe. Many want the group banned for what they say is its opposition to Indian culture and tradition.
On Sunday, the railways cancelled 19 trains after pro-Jallikattu crowds collected on railway tracks.
These included the Palakkad Town-Tiruchchirappalli Passenger, Karaikudi- Tiruchchirappalli Passenger and Vanchi Maniyachchi-Tuticorin Passenger.
"Daily some 40,000 passengers are affected due to cancellations and short terminations due to the protests. Many of them may be travelling to attend interviews or for health reasons," a railway official told IANS preferring anonymity.