The Karnataka government has decided to bring an amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA), 1960 for conducting traditional sports of Kambala and bull-cart race in the State. State Cabinet meeting presided by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah approved amendments to the Act and announced that bill will be placed before both Houses of the State legislature.
Karnatak state government is going to follow the model of the Tamil Nadu government and bring changes to the PCA. The Bill passed by the legislature will require an assent from the President.
What is the controversy?
- This age-old tradition of buffalo race is a cause of concern for animal lovers and animal activists. The celebration of Kambala was stopped in Karnataka based on an order of Supreme Court, dated 7th May, 2014. This order was actually meant for the violent game of jallikkatu, a bull taming sport in Tamil Nadu. The order did not mention Kambala.
- Kambala, like jallikattu, was banned last year in November 2016 after animal rights group PETA approached the Karnataka High Court, citing animal cruelty in bull taming and buffalo racing. In view of the apex court verdict on jallikattu, the high court had also stayed this event. Kambala Committees opposed this and next hearing is slated on January 30.
- There has been a request to remove this ban on Kambala, following a government order to remove the ban on Jallikattu in January 2017.
- Kambala is an annual traditional Buffalo Race (he-buffalo) held in coastal districts of Karnataka to entertain rural people of the area. Slushy/marshy paddy field track is used for Kambala.
- The sports season generally starts in November and lasts till March. The contest generally takes place between two pairs of buffaloes, each pair race in two seprate wet rice fields tracks, controlled by a whip-lashing farmer.
- In the traditional form of Kambala, buffalo racing is non-competitive and he-buffalo pairs run one by one in paddy fields.
- Besides, there is also ritualistic approach also as some agriculturists race their he-buffaloes for thanks giving to god for protecting their animals from diseases. But in recent times, Kambala has become an organised rural sport.
- Innovations are made in conducting kambala race and in some places day and night races are arranged under floodlights.
Main areas where Kambala is held
- Mangalore is one of the places where Kambala is celebrated in a big manner. Kadri Kambala used to be held at Kadri, Mangalore and it is called Devara Kambala (God’s kambala) as it is associated with Sri Manjunatha Temple, Kadri, Mangalore.
- This event was patronised by Alupa kings of Mangalore who were the rules 300 years ago and for this reason, Kadri kambala is also known asArasu kambala (king’s kambala).
- Apart from the kings, the kambala festival was also patronised by the famous households/landlords in Mangalore.
- Other main areas of Kambala sport are: Manjeshwara, Bajagoli, Baradi Beedu, Bolantur, Kolatta Majalu, Puttur, Uppinagadi, Kakyapadavu etc.
- Negilu: Lighter plough made especially for Kambala is tied to the buffaloes. This is the entry level.
- Hagga: A rope is tied to the buffaloes.
- Adda Halage: Horizontal wooden plank tied to buffaloes and the farmer stands over it during the race.
- Kane Halage: Rounded wooden plank is tied to buffaloes. Farmer stands on the wooden block on one leg. It has two holes through which water gushes out while running. Height of the muddy water splashed will determine the winner. More the speed, more the height. This is the ultimate part of Kambala and most experienced buffaloes and runners take part.
Care for the buffaloes
As this sport tests the speed and swiftness of the buffaloes, they are well-fed and cared for throughout the year. Some owners of the buffaloes also build separate swimming pools for the buffaloes that compete in the races.
Accidents do occur sometimes during the race, buffaloes may skid or topple, the farmer who runs along with them also may fall and get hurt, sometimes with serious injuries. Ambulance will be kept ready nearby too.