Kambala season set to begin from Saturday

There are 18 races lined up in to be held in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi districts for the 2018-19 season

The coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi are all set for the kambala (a traditional slush-track buffalo race) from this Saturday, with 18 races lined up for the 2018-19 season.

The first race, named ‘sathya-dharma’, is scheduled at Kakkyapadavu, Bantwal taluk in Dakshina Kannada on November 24. The last and the 18th ‘soorya-chandra’ kambala will be conducted at Talapady-Panjala in Mangaluru taluk on March 23, 2019.

All of them would be held under the auspices of the District Kambala Committee.

It is customary for the kambala to be held for five months, from November to March, in ‘hagga’, ‘kane halage’, ‘naegilu’ and ‘adda halage’ categories, each year. The race can go on right through the day and on to night, depending on the number of buffalo teams participating.

With the Governor giving approval for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Second Amendment) Act, 2017, and the State government notifing the same on February 20, 2018, kambala organisers are happy that they can conduct the race without the threat of a ban hanging over the event as it did in the 2016-17 season.

P.R. Shetty, president of the committee, told The Hindu that from this season onwards a racer or the jockey (who runs with the animals, handling them) would be allowed to handle only three pairs of buffaloes against seven to eight pairs permitted earlier.

In addition, his helpers who prepare buffaloes for the race at the venue, would also be allowed to prepare only three pairs. This is to cut the time taken between races.

He said that the committee has called a meeting of all stakeholders of kambala in Miyar, near Karkala in Udupi district, on November 21 to apprise the racers and others on the new guidelines.

The Dr. Shivaram Karanth Pilikula Nisargadhama, under Dakshina Kannada district administration, which had stopped its kambala since four years ago owing to the controversy, scheduled the race again this season on December 22.

The ‘Pilikula-Hokkagigoli’ race would also be conducted under the auspices of the committee.

The long legal battle

Kambala was not held in the coastal districts during 2016-17 due to a ban imposed by Karnataka High Court in November 2016 on a PIL filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Later, the President promulgated The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Ordinance 2017, which was valid till January 20, 2018 paving the way for conducting ‘kambala’ in 2017-18.

Though the PETA challenged the ordinance in the Supreme Court, it refused to pass an interim stay on the Ordinance. Hence some ‘kambalas’ were held in the last season.

Now though the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Second Amendment) Act, 2017 is in place paving the way for continuing ‘kambala’, the PETA has again questioned the Constitutional validity of the new law in the Supreme Court in September, 2018 seeking direction to strike it down.

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Printable version | Jul 14, 2020 11:17:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/kambala-season-set-to-begin-from-saturday/article25544294.ece

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