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However, the anticipation has been replaced by angst in Madurai where the ancient sport of Jallikattu (bull taming) has traditionally been a prominent feature of Pongal celebrations. In July, the Union Environment and Forest Minister issued a notice banning bulls from public performances following pressure over cruelty to the animals. However, conflict exists because the sport is still permitted under state legislation.
Jallikattu differs from popular bullfighting in Spain as the bull isn't killed and the participants don't use weapons. The bulls rarely suffer casualties. However, there's been a huge push in recent years to outlaw it. The resistance is substantial though, as Jallikattu is important part of Tamil culture -- even for future brides who identify potential suitors according to how brave they are in the arena.
For now, it's uncertain whether Jallikattu will be allowed during Pongal this January. Organizers have gone to Delhi in hopes of negotiating a favorable outcome.
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