Bull fighting with audience participation!...Strictly speaking it's bull-baiting 'Indian' style - but none the less?
a recent bull-baiting 'contest' in the village of Alanganellur, in south central India. A number of Brahman (Zebu) bulls charging through the crowd-lined main street, with various bull-baiters leaping on them, clinging to their humps in an effort to bring them down. On more than one occasion the bulls charge the crowd - at least one person died, and more than a dozen were seriously injured according to our cameraman.
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Background: Bull fighting with audience participation!...Strictly speaking it's bull-baiting 'Indian' style - but none the less dangerous for that. No heroic Plaza de Toros, with crowds shouting encouragement from the safety of the stands. In this sport, the crowd - usually several thousand of them - are right in the front line of fire. Men, women - young and old - plus a fair sprinkling of children, line the village street all the way from the bulls' enclosure, leaving only a very narrow path-arena for the bulls to charge through.
No proudly dressed matadors - just about anyone and everyone can leap on the bull as it runs the gauntlet of the crowd. No traditional classic swordplay either: they try to conquer the bull barehanded, and when they succeed, it's usually by weight of numbers rather than studied skill.
Some bulls stand and wait, others run - very often headlong into the crowd where their sharp, wickedly curved horns take a heavy toll of spectators' flesh. The 'experts' say that none of the actual bull baiters has ever died - but fatalities among the crowd are frequent.
The festival is usually held after the harvest has been gathered in, when the people of the surrounding countryside gather in the village to celebrate. The bull and bullock, just as much as the cow, is an integral part of life - to be used for sport as well as work and worship.