Kadri kambala (the buffalo race)

20 December 2006

When the fields are fush with water there is one sight not to be missed, the kambala or the buffalo race that is unique to Dakshina Kannada. This is a unique sport of this region.

The historically famous Kadri Kambala race is held annually at Kadri Kambalaguthu. Historians date the roots of this race back to more than a thousand years. At that time Kambala was the event when farmers paid tribute to their gods for protecting their crops. There used to be lot of celebration and games as part of this festive atmosphere. Some say Kambala also marked the beginning of sowing operations for the second round of crops. Traditionally, there were two types of kambalas, Pookere Kambala and Bale Kambala. Bale Kambala was discontinued some 900 years ago.

The Mangalore Kambala, popularly known as the Mangalore Hobali Kambala, is an annual feature at the Kadri Kambala fields here. Run in a paddy field by pairs of buffaloes, egged on by a strong-musled ryot in an atmosphere so taut that it can be slashed by a knife, the kambala event is closest to horse race. According to people associated with the sport, it flourished under the royal patronage of kings and famous households in Mangalore. In the olden days, the buffaloes were brought in procession to the accompaniment of `dolanalike' (drum dance).


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