Kambala festival was in news in January 2017 as the Indian state of Karnataka is all set to celebrate the festival. Kambala is an annual buffalo race held traditionally under the patronage of local landlords and households in the state.
The buffalo race in Karnataka takes place annually between November and March. The places where the festival takes place are Baradi Beedu, Kolatta, Majalu, Bolantur, Kamalakettu, Puttur and Uppinagadi.
The two-day celebration starts with a display of the participating buffaloes with their respective farmers. During the festival, when the fields are wet, the buffaloes are made to race on the tracks, guided by the farmer. Each team consists of two buffaloes and a farmer who controls the buffaloes. Two teams are made to race down two mushy paddy fields to conclude on the fastest team. The winner of the race is awarded with a coconut and other gifts.
Origin of the Kambala festival
• The origin of the Kambala can be traced back to more than a thousand years. During the early days of the festival, it was known as Karaga celebrations.
• It is believed that the festival was started by the Hoysala Kings. According to beliefs, the Kings started the festival to see if the buffaloes could be trained and used during wartime. The Kings were amazed to see the speed of the buffaloes and started racing them against one another. This, gradually, led into a sport for the royals.
• As per another belief, the origin of the festival lies in the farming community of Karnataka. The belief states that the celebrations are dedicated to Lord Kadri Manjunatha, an incarnation of Lord Shiva. It was celebrated to please the Gods for a good harvest.
Ban on the festival
• The festival has been criticised by animal lovers and various lawsuits were filed by animal welfare organizations for banning the sport.
• In 2014, the Supreme Court of India ordered a ban on Kambala and Jallikattu.
• There has been a request to remove the ban on Kambala, following a government order to remove the ban on Jallikattu in January 2017.