Bull-taming sport allowed but protests go on in south India

Protestors hold placards demanding Jallikattu, a traditional bull-taming sport banned by India's top court, be allowed to resume unhindered as thousands gather at the Marina beach in Chennai, India, Sunday, Jan.22, 2017. The sport was performed in parts of southern India on Sunday after Tamil Nadu state government signed an executive order Saturday allowing Jallikattu contests to take place Sunday. (AP Photo)
A protestor holds a placard supporting Jallikattu, a traditional bull-taming sport banned by India's top court, as thousands gather demanding that the sport be allowed to resume unhindered at the Marina beach in Chennai, India, Sunday, Jan.22, 2017. The sport was performed in parts of southern India on Sunday after Tamil Nadu state government signed an executive order Saturday allowing Jallikattu contests to take place Sunday. (AP Photo)

NEW DELHI — A traditional bull-taming sport banned by India's top court was performed in parts of southern India on Sunday but tens of thousands of protesters demanded the sport be allowed to resume unhindered.

The Tamil Nadu state government had signed an executive order Saturday allowing Jallikattu contests to take place Sunday.

The order bypassed a 2014 directive from the Supreme Court that banned the sport on grounds of animal cruelty. The order will last only six months and could be appealed in court by animal rights groups.

The sport, performed during the four-day "Pongal" or winter harvest festival, is hugely popular in Tamil Nadu, and large crowds have protested on a Chennai beach since Tuesday demanding the sport be allowed.

Jallikattu involves releasing a bull into a crowd of people who attempt to grab it and ride it. Animal rights activists say that the sport is extremely cruel to the animals who often have chili powder rubbed into their eyes and have their tails broken as crowds try to grab them.

The ban has evoked intense emotions, with Tamil actors and sports stars joining the locals in demanding that the sport be restored as a symbol of Tamil culture.

New Delhi Television reported Sunday that the sport was performed in some districts of Tamil Nadu but that protests in Madurai district blocked state chief minister O. Panneersalvam from inaugurating the games in the area.

Alanganallur village in Madurai district is one of the main areas for the sport. Angry villagers blocked the roads to the bull arena, forcing the chief minister to return to Chennai.

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