Hundreds of people witnessed the Kadri Kambala spectacle that began here on Sunday, which had all the thrills and spills of action that has made this event so popular in this region for over 300 years.
There was no let up in the adrenaline, as women, children and the elderly eagerly participated in the various events such as running race, tug-of-war and the treasure hunt. Yet, there was no escaping a certain familiar predictability that sets in with the passing of each Kambala season for the regular visitor.
Sunday’s Kadri Kambala was the maiden tryst with this ancient sport for Sachin Pandey (37).
Mr. Pandey, a Maharashtrian based in Bangalore, travelled all the way just to witness and photograph the event. “I am married to a Mangalore woman and I have been hearing about the Kambala from my in-laws ever since my marriage,” he told The Hindu while scouring the venue for a photograph.
Karthik, a student of National Institute of Technology (Calicut), was also looking for a “fresh photograph”. He said that he had done a lot of research about the sport before he came to actually shoot it. “All the images I have seen were taken from the front or sideways. Apart from the expressions of the buffalo or the jockey, there is no change in the frame.” Although he was not too sure about how he wanted to achieve that “fresh photograph”, he seemed intent and asked not to be disturbed further.
Ridhima Hegde (23), a New York-based student of Indian origin, was looking to add some zest to her photographic portfolio. “I intend to become a photo-journalist and I think these images will look just awesome on my resume. I am looking for one outstanding photograph,” she said.
Terence Lobo (29), a Bahrain-based photo-journalist also of Indian origin, believed he found the best Kambala photograph of his life. One of the jockeys tripped and fell after failing to keep pace with his buffaloes. Angry, perhaps at his failure, he went on to lash the animals mercilessly. “I got a series of photographs right from the moment the jockey fell,” said Mr. Lobo.
The Kambala reminded Kasamsuk (35) and Samart (30) from Thailand of their home. “We too have Buffalo races in Thailand. It is called Vingkuy. Ving means race and kuy means buffalo. It is most popular in the Chonburi province of Thailand. It is just like this,” said Mr. Kasamsuk.
Mr. Samart corrected his friend and said, “There are a few differences. In Thailand, we race with only one buffalo at a time. The jockey rides on top of the animal.” The two were taking pictures of a different kind. “We are not professionals or anything. We just want to show these unbelievable photos to our people back home. They will be surprised to know that there is an Indian Vingkuy,” said Mr. Samart when Mr. Kasamsuk corrected him by saying, “This is not Vingkuy. Its called Kambala here.”