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Presidential assent for Kambala bill
Jul 05, 2017

In news:

All the hurdles for resuming Kambala — the traditional slush-track buffalo race of the coastal districts — are cleared with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Bill, 2017, finally getting Presidential assent on Monday.

The Legislative Assembly passed the Bill in February 2017 to put the traditional sport out of the ambit of PCA Act. Governor Vajubhai R. Vala then referred the Bill to the President for his assent.


What is KAMBALA

What is this sport:

  • Kambala is an annual buffalo race which is a tradition in the Karnataka's Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts' farming community. This area is called Tulunadu (Land of Tulu Language). 
  • A pair of buffaloes are tied to the plough and one person anchors it, beating the buffaloes with a stick to run faster. There are two parallel muddy tracks, on which two competing pairs of buffaloes run. Fastest team wins.
  • The festival begins with an inaugural ceremony and a parade of the participating farmers along with their prized buffaloes. 
  • The racing tracks are normally about 120 to 160 metres in length and 8 to 12 metres in width. Tracks are ploughed into a muddy field that is made slushy with water. 
  • Buffalo race will continue overnight also at different levels and a grand finale will be held to determine the winner of the Kambala of particular area.
  • Where: Coastal region of Karnataka (Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts and bordering area of Kerala).
  • Season: This annual event starts in November and lasts till March every year. This age-old festival is organized on a large scale and a huge crowd gathers to participate in the celebrations.
  • Belief: According to one belief, Kambala is a festival that originated in the farming community of Karnataka around 800 years back. The festival is dedicated to Kadri's Lord Manjunatha, an incarnation of Lord Shiva. It is believed to be celebrated to please the Gods for a good harvest. It is a form of recreational sport for the farming community and also another belief is that it is considered as the Sport of the royal (landlord) Family.
  • Areas: Mangalore is one of the places where Kambala is celebrated in a big manner.
  • 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.

Controversy surrounding Kambala

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.

How is different from Jallikattu

  Jallikattu Kambala
What is it? Jallikattu is a rural bull-taming sport played in Tamil Nadu on Mattu Pongal day (mid-January). The word 'Jallikattu' is derived from the Tamil words Jalli and Kattu, which mean silver or gold coins tied to the horns of the bulls as the prize money. There are three variants of the sport - Vati Manju Virattu, Veli Virattu and Vatam Manjuvirattu. Kambala is an annual buffalo race held between November and March by the farming community in Karnataka's Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts, and in areas bordering Kerala. It's organised at different times during this period in different areas of the state. Earlier, winners used to be given coconuts. But now, gold medals and - in some places - trophies are awarded.
Rules In Vati Manju Virattu, participants attempt to hold on to bulls for a specified amount of time or distance. In Veli Virattu, bulls are released into an open ground and competitors try to control the animals. And in Vatam Manjuvirattu, bulls are tied to long ropes, and a team of players tries to control them.

Kambala is organised on two parallel racing tracks which are ploughed into a muddy field, and made slushy with water. They're normally about 120 to 160 metres long and eight to 12 metres wide. Two pairs of buffaloes tied to ploughs and guided by racers compete to reach the finish line first. The racers beat the animals with a stick to make them run, and can make them cover up to 100 metres in 12 seconds. The races continue overnight, and happen in stages until a grand finale decides the winner in a particular region.

The Kambala festival begins with an inaugural ceremony, and a parade of the participating farmers along with their prized buffaloes.

Reason for controversy Opponents of jallikattu say it's a cruel, violent sport which involves tormenting a frightened animal in an arena. The Supreme Court banned the sport in 2014, and animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment on Animals (PETA) was one of the organisations on whose petitions the apex court decided to outlaw it. And in the years preceding the ban, bull owners took to feeding the bulls arrack and rubbing chili on the animals' bodies to increase their aggression, a report said in 2014. However, some jallikattu supporters deny that such practices occur. Kambala was banned last year after PETA approached the Karnataka High Court, citing animal cruelty in bull taming and buffalo racing. The high court had earlier stayed this event in view of the apex court's verdict on jallikattu. Kambala committees have opposed the ban, and the next hearing is scheduled for January 30.
Dangers faced by participants Between 2010 to 2014, there were reportedly around 1,100 injuries and 17 deaths because of jallikattu events. Over 200 people have died during the sport over the past two decades. On Sunday, two people died during a jallikattu event in Pudukottai district. Accidents do occur sometimes during Kambala races. Buffaloes may skid or topple, and the farmers who run along with them also may fall and get hurt - sometimes badly. Ambulances are kept ready during these events.
Origins 

Bull baiting was common among the ancient tribes who lived in the 'Mullai' geographical division of the ancient Tamil country. It became a opportunity for men to display their bravery, and prize money was introduced for entertainment.

Sangam literature, nearly 2,000 years old, talks about 'eru thazhuvuthal' — hugging the bull — as a rite of passage for a man seeking a girl's hand in marriage, says writer Stalin Rajangam (who opposes jallikattu).

According to one belief, Kambala originated in Karnataka's farming community around 800 years ago. The festival is dedicated to Kadri's Lord Manjunatha, an incarnation of Lord Shiva. It's believed that the recreational sport is organised to appease the gods for a good harvest.

Another belief holds that it's the sport of the royal (Landlord) family.

 


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