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27 December 2014

And they ran! Kambala.

Kambala is a traditional rural buffalo race held in a slushy mud field. Buffalo owners from all over undivided South Canara participate with their well groomed and fed buffaloes, specially looked after the entire year for just this season. This year I took time out to attend one such Kambala held near my village in Mulki on Christmas Day.

[The previous post was regarding the protest march that took place in Mangalore against the Honorable SC order. You can read about it here. Well, things began to look hopeful after that, with lots of petitions etc., and finally the ban was revoked. However certain riders were released so as to ensure the buffaloes are not subjected to cruelty, and I did observe ample care and steps taken to follow the same.]

Mulki Seeme Arasu Kambala (Arasa = King) has been held since a very long time (no one exactly knows when; the history spans hundreds of years according to an old man there), in a field just off the highway, NH-17. I reach quite early. The atmosphere is infectiously festive. People are just arriving with their buffaloes, who look quite handsome. There are various headgears which they wear, along with Kumkum smeared on their foreheads.

As I approach the actual venue, people around are setting up tents for the event that runs till early morning next day, people have already begun cooking for the day. Lots of stalls are being set up. When Dad was a kid, he says most stalls sold mithai (= sugar sweets). Now you can have the ubiquitous Gobi Manchurian, that too Mysore style or Bombay style!

People arrive with their buffaloes

03 December 2014

Buffaloes in the city!

Kambala is a traditional annual rural event of undivided Tulunadu. It is generally conducted in the months of December-January. On this day, well-groomed, well-fed and well-nourished he-buffaloes run a race in a slushy field, along with a keeper. Around 50 Kambalas are held every year across South Canara, and the preparations for the same last almost throughout the year.

The Kambala buffaloes are carefully looked after by the farmers who own them, almost like their own children. It is rumoured some of them even have air-conditioned sheds for the star buffaloes. On the Kambala day, the buffaloes are decorated colorfully, and the entire village assembles to watch the show. Some of them also have religious affiliations; a famous Kambala held every year in Mangalore is Kadri Kambala (also referred to as Devara Kambala, Devaru=God), affilitaed to the Sri Manjunatha Temple, Kadri.

Of late though, animal rights activists have raised their voices regarding the supposed animal cruelty that happens during the event. Well, no one would support animal cruelty in any form. But then, if there are real concerns regarding the same, a logical approach would first be to ban slaughter houses, not only of cows and buffaloes, but of all animals! It is often mistaken to be identical to Jallikattu (another event with buffaloes held in TN), but it is not.

A protest regarding the ban was held by the farmers and Kambala supporters in Mangalore, and I happened to be there at the venue. It was a colorful procession, wherein over 180 pairs of buffaloes took part, and a petition to revoke the ban was submitted to the District Commisioner. It was quite a sight to behold; to see buffaloes walking on the main streets of Mangalore, with their owners continuously sprinkling water and feeding them to ensure their comfort, and posing for the cameras too!

Sharing here are a few pictures from the procession...