Kambala call gathers steam: Students hit the streets in Mangaluru, demand lifting of ban

Activists have been eager to point out that kambala was milder than jallikattu, and no casualties have been reported in the races so far.
Kambala call gathers steam: Students hit the streets in Mangaluru, demand lifting of ban
Kambala call gathers steam: Students hit the streets in Mangaluru, demand lifting of ban
Written by:

Takshak Pai 

Coastal Karnataka’s growing demand for legislation supporting the traditional buffalo racing sport of kambala intensified into a protest in Mangaluru on Friday.  The rally, which mainly saw the participation of college students, began as part of a human chain from Hampankatta Circle in the city. 

The streets leading to the District Commissioner’s Office resounded with cries demanding an immediate ordinance to lift the ban on the sport. Students were also seen carrying placards condemning the animal rights organisation PETA. “Today they say you are beating buffaloes, tomorrow they will say you can’t milk cows, there is pain in that! There is no end,” asserted Ashok Rai, one of the petitioners in support of Kambala in the Karnataka High Court. “We ask the government to pass an ordinance for this, as they did in Tamil Nadu for Jallikattu,” he added.

Kambala, which involves races between pairs of buffaloes in wet rice fields, was banned on grounds of animal cruelty like jallikattu. While, the Supreme Court order dated May 7, 2014 specifically dealt with jallikattu and did not mention kambala, the AWBI wrote to the Karnataka government in January 2016 requesting it not to allow Kambala races in the state on the grounds of the Supreme Court judgement.

Activists in Mangaluru have been arguing that the two sports are vastly different. The objective in jallikattu is to tame the bull, and according to statistics provided by the Animal Welfare Board of India, 43 people have lost their lives to jallikattu over the years. Kambala, on the other hand, is a buffalo race and while jockeys are regularly injured in the sport, no casualties have been reported.

Over the past week, social media was rife with posters calling for protests in Mangaluru City – being shared by both politicians and pro-Kambala organisations. The “pride of Mangalore”, as one protester described the traditional sport, is receiving support across political parties. “Mangaluru has three to four traditions which we are proud of. Bhoota Kola, Yakshagana, Naaga Mandala and Kambala. If one of them is banned, it is a big problem for all of us,” said Shravan, another protester.

While the state government has showed support for Kambala, with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah publicly commenting on the issue, the protesters at Hampankatta showed no signs of letting the issue go without an immediate reversal of the ban on the sport. A second protest is planned in Moodbidri on Saturday, with the promise of 200 buffaloes lining up at the venue. “We won’t give up. We will be back tomorrow at Moodbidri, where 70,000 people will take part in the protest,” asserted Ashok.

“This is not about parties and religions. It is about our culture. The people of Karavali won’t give up,” said a member of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike.

(Content provided by The Manipal Journal)

(All photographs courtesy: Adwitiya Shukla)

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