The Jallikattu festival in Tamil Nadu has bulls festooned with marigold released from pens while men try to grab their horns to win prizes such as scooters and whitegoods.
A government official named S. Natarajan said; Nearly 500 bulls and a similar number of “tamers” were involved on the opening day of the festival in Madurai.
He also told AFP that “Forty nine people were injured yesterday. Nine were taken to hospital for minor injuries,”
Critics around the world say the bulls have chilli powder thrown in their faces and are also given alcohol to drink to agitate them before the clash. Organizers insist the reports are false.
In past years, competitors have been mercilessly gored to death by bulls.
India’s Supreme Court outlawed Jallikattu in 2016 after a plea by animal rights groups but Tamil Nadu insisted Jallikattu was a crucial part of its culture and identity.
Growing tensions in the state capital Chennai, and other cities, led Prime Minister Narendra Modi to issue an executive order that the centuries-old festival go ahead.