Weekend curfew halts kambalas in Karnataka

A file photo of a kambala race.

A file photo of a kambala race.

The weekend curfew has forced the annual kambala (buffalo run on slush track or field) events in the coastal belt to come to an abrupt end.

In addition to the non-competitive traditional kambalas organised by individual farmers or land-owning entities, including temples, the Kambala Committee of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, and Kasaragod (Kerala) districts had scheduled 19 events, which are competitive races, in the 2021-22 season from November, 2021 to March, 2022. The events of the committee attracted huge crowd as they are scheduled on Saturdays and Sundays.

According to Vijaya Kumar Kanginamane, a former general secretary and presently a member of the committee, only six kambalas have been held now under the auspices of the committee.

They were held at Moodbidri, Miyar (Karkala), Hokkadi Goli (Belthangady), Mulky, Kakke Padavu (Bantwal), and Ballamanja (Belthangady).

The last kambala of the season has been scheduled on March 26 at Bangady (Belthangady), he said, adding that a majority of traditional kambalas got over by the time the weekend curfew came into force on January 8.

He said that a maximum 221 pairs of buffalo took part in the Koti-Chennaya Kambala held at Moodbidri this time. The previous record was in 2013 when 232 pairs took part in the decennial kambala at Miyar.

Mr. Kanginamane said that night curfew this year made to stop the event at Kakke Padavu at 10 p.m. and resume the kambala next day morning.

He said that the region had about 100 kambala jockeys of which 20 are best performers and among them about eight are toppers. Normally if the events went on without any disruption some jockeys earned up to ₹13 lakh a season. The helpers who handled the buffaloes at the events and transporters who transported the animals to the events too earned some money during the season.

Mr. Kanginamane said that the committee could organise only 11 events during 2020-21 season due to COVID-19 restrictions. The events were not affected during 2019-20 season as a majority of kambalas had got over by the time the lockdown came into force.

“Since helping to prevent the spread of infection and maintaining public health is the priority we have to cooperate with the Government,” he said adding that the events will resume only if the Government allowed them.

In 2016-17, the annual event was stopped for the first time, following a High Court ban in response to a petition by animal rights group PETA. An Ordinance in 2017 paved the way for kambala’s continuance. Now, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Second Amendment) Act, 2017, permits it to be conducted with restrictions to safeguard against the mistreatment of the animals.

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Printable version | May 18, 2022 1:50:59 pm |