Madurai (Tamil Nadu): The first death anniversary of Arvind Raj, the 26-year-old bull tamer, who participated at the Jallikattu in Palamedu near Madurai and died following injuries sustained to his right lower abdomen, was observed on January 17. His parents garlanded his portrait near the Palamedu Jallikattu Ground to mark his death anniversary.
While speaking with ETV Bharat, Raj's father Rajendran said that his son had been actively involved in Jallikattu, a 2,000 years old competitive bull-taming sport in Tamil Nadu in which contestants attempt to tame a bull for a prize. "He was naturally inclined, but last year his determination to win the prize surpassed everything else. My request is to raise a Nadukal (Hero Stone) and build a memorial for him. I have also submitted a petition to Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu MK Stalin, the District Collector, the Municipal Officer and the Village Committee," he said.
He must get the fame he deserves, the father said. "I pray to God no other Jallikattu player should suffer and die as I know the pain of losing the son. However, I am proud that my son died as a hero," said a tearful Rajendran. A song from the Tamil Sangam literature of Kalithogai says, "Kollettru Kodu Anjuvanai Marumaiyum Pullale Aaya Magal", meaning "A man fearful about being killed by the horn of the bull, will never get married to a Tamil girl, even in his next birth."
The history of Nadukal is preserved in the book "Nadukal Agazhvaippagam" written by Dr Subramanian, who served as the District Archeology Officer of Dharmapuri. The book has been published by the Department of Archeology of the Tamil Nadu Government. It features details, including the various types of Hero Stones and the environment in which they are planted.
"Thoru kavarudhal" (capturing cattle), "Thoru Meettal" (recovery of stolen cattle), "Pulikuthappattan Kal" (a hero, who dies in a fight with a tiger for cattle), "Panri Kuthappattan Kal" (a hero who dies in a fight with a wild boar) and heroes killed while bull taming has been worshipped by the hero stones.
Commonly carved figures of the martyred hero holding weapons in his hands, his name, city, reasons for his death, kunguma simil, kendi and Shiva Lingam are carved on the Nadukals in Tamil scripts.
In its election manifesto, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) mentioned that bull tamers would be prioritised when it comes to offering employment in Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin, who had come to witness the Alanganallur Jalalikatu on January 17, promised to conduct Jallikattu matches on the same scale as that of the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches.
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