Kambala - The stupendous synergy between Man and Beast
Posted: Monday, August 25th, 2008 | Views: 22683
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Kambala, translated as "Buffalo Race" is a favorite folk sport of South Canara and is a combination of fun, technique, stamina and control. History has it that paddy growers began celebrating annual harvest with Kambala. It gained popularity slowly and groups of families joined together to celebrate it. Inscriptions found in the region has shown that the tradition is more than 1,000 years old. Kambala enjoyed royal patronage in older times and today the sport has drawn national and international attention. The Kambala venue wears a festive look with people converging from all over the district to witness the race.

The most prominent feature of Kambala is the technique which enables a jockey(usually the farmer looking after the buffaloes) make a hefty buffalo do a 100 meters sprint in less than 14 seconds. The buffalo jockeys are barefoot and have to run on a slushy track while controlling a pair of enormously powerful beasts that are just churning and kicking slush all around. The jockeys and the participants are given clear instructions not to torment buffaloes and repeated appeals are made not to beat the animals during the races.

This supremely athletic folk sport has become very popular among even today's youth and old alike who turn up in large numbers to witness this feat. The kambala track is also used for a tug of war and a local version of rugby called thappangayi. A dehusked coconut is marinated in oil and two teams are formed to reach the slippery coconut to the goal posts of the rival team. It is to be noted that it is very difficult for human hands to secure and hold the coconut let alone carry it to the goal post. The oil mixed with slush makes it a very slippery object and teams struggle for long periods to score one goal.

The kambala has an aura of strength and endurance about it. Landlords take pride in rearing the buffaloes and they treat them royally, even hiring people to look after them. For city people, it is a wonder that man and beast coordinate their efforts so well and that alone makes this event worth watching. In modern times the sport has a touch of hi-tech with replay camera finishes having been incorporated for getting the results right. Channels such as Discovery and National Geographic have also filmed the event.

The popular kambalas around the city include Kadri Kambala, Jaya-Vijaya, Surya Chandra, Kantabare Boodabare, Lava Kusha, Katpady Arasa Kambala and Kaup Arasa Kambala.

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