Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday hailed the Tamil tradition of holding jallikattu and witnessed the bull-taming event at Avaniapuram in Madurai on Pongal day.
Thanking the organisers for inviting him to be a part of the event, he said that he was immensely happy to be amidst the public and the bull-tamers on a joyous occasion.
The jallikattu, he said, reflected the richness of the tradition of the people in this region and appreciated the large turnout of youngsters dressed in traditional attire. From time immemorial, the culture of the Tamils had been widely respected all around and he assured that he would stand by the people of Tamil Nadu . I thank the organisers for having invited me here to witness the jallikattu, nanri...(Thank you), he added.
Mr. Gandhi said that he had specifically come here because the Tamil culture, language and history was essential for the future of India and needs to be respected by everybody in India
He watched the event with DMK youth wing leader Udhayanidhi Stalin.
I have a message to those people who think that they can run roughshod over the Tamil people, who think they can push aside Tamil language and Tamil culture. I have received tremendous love and affection from the people of Tamil Nadu and it is my duty to stand with the people of Tamil Nadu and protect their history, their culture and their language, he said.
So I have come here also to learn about your culture, about your feelings and about your history. I would like to wish everybody happy pongal, best wishes, and congratulate the youngsters (tamers) who have done a tremendous job.He added: I am happy to see that the jallikattu is being organised in a systematic and safe way so that both the bull and the youngsters (tamers) are safe and everything is taken care of .
Mr Udhayanidhi Stalin said this was his first visit to the Avaniapuram Jallikattu. He said Madurai means veeram (valour) and jallikattu was one example.
The AICC leader arrived here from New Delhi by a special flight at 9 a.m.
He was received by TNCC president K.S. Alagiri, Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy, Virudhunagar MP Manicka Tagore, MLA Vijayadharani and other functionaries.
Soon after the reception, Mr. Gandhi, accompanied by AICC Secretary in-charge of TN Affairs Sanjay Dutt proceeded to Avaniapuram to witness the jallikattu.
In view of the visit of Mr. Gandhi, the security in and around the airport and peripheries were beefed up. He is likely to participate in a Pongal celebration near here and later proceed to the airport.
The DMK functionaries had accorded a rousing reception for Mr. Udayanidhi Stalin at Villapuram in the morning near the airport. He also returned to Chennai by a scheduled aircraft.