Of speed, control and adrenaline rush

Participants trying to tame a bull before the bullock-cart race Krishnarayudupeta near Visakhapatnam on Thursday.  

The Sankranti revelry was at its peak on Thursday as the dusty open grounds at Krishnarayudupeta, a village along the district borders of Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram, and three other villages in Chodavaram hosted the high-octane bullock cart races as part of Kanuma.

Well, historically there is no documentation of the races, but the natives say that they have been participating in it since the last seven decades. “The race could be a few centuries old, but I remember seeing my grandfather participating in it,” says Addepalli Palaveli, a resident of Chukkapali.

Light, yet strong

The race is unique as bullock carts are specially designed for the purpose. Usually, a bullock cart weighs around 1,000 kg, but the carts used in the race are around 250 kg. These are much lighter, but the wheels are much stronger.

Many use teak wood for building the carts. The wheels made up of wood with a rubber lining get a better grip on the clay. Their spokes are reinforced with iron rods, says Mr. Palaveli, adding that the cost of each cart varies between ₹50,000 and ₹1 lakh.

“The lighter the cart, the faster it moves. But, there is a risk. At times the riders get thrown off the cart during the race, injuring themselves,” says Apparao, a participant from Chodavaram.

At Krishnarayudupeta, as many as 18 participants from the neighbouring villages in Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram districts threw their hats into the ring to win the prize money of ₹10,000. However, it is not all about the prize at all.

Pride at stake

“It is not about money, but pride. Winning the race is not only an individual achievement but also a matter of pride for the village. It is the prestige of the village at stake,” says Mr. Palaveli.

The participants practice for the race at their respective villages for over a month.

According to the participants, a lot of technicalities are involved in the race. “Once the bulls get going, there is no looking back. Speed has to match the control. At times, the speed touches 60 km per hour. At times, riders bite the tail of the bulls to move them faster,” explains Mr. Palaveli.

Each cart is pulled by two bulls, mostly Mysore breeds . They are fed well and trained through out the year for the big day, says another participant.

Be it at Chodavaram or Krishnarayudupeta, around 10,000 people gather at the race venues. Some even bet their money on participants.

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Printable version | Jun 21, 2021 1:54:26 PM |

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