Kambala season begins to enthuse local folks in coastal Karnataka

News Network
December 17, 2022

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Kambala, the traditional buffalo race event popular in the coastal Karnataka districts of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Kasaragod of Kerala, has embarked on a new season, entertaining tourists and the rural population in the region known as Tulu Nadu.

The first kambala (buffalo race in slushy paddy fields) of the season was set in motion at Kakkepadavu in Bantwal taluk of DK district on November 26.

Priest Raghavendra Bhat performed the rituals and temple pujari Yogindra Bhat inaugurated the ‘Sathya Dharma Kambala’ at the venue, which entered its decennial year. A total of 22 competitive kambalas have been tentatively scheduled for the 2022-23 season till April 8 next year, according to district Kambala committee president Rohit Hegde Yermal.

The last Kambala has been scheduled at Panapila in Moodbidri on April 8, 2023.

The events to be held at Bolangala near Mudipu and Panapila are the two new Kambalas which have been added to the season’s calendar. The kambala track at Bolangala is getting ready while the track at Panapila has already been prepared, sources said. Kambalas are usually held at 18 to 20 places in the region on behalf of the committee every year.

The number rose to 22 this season due to the apparent enthusiasm among the youth who are more attracted to the event in recent years. The sixth edition of Mangaluru Kambala under the aegis of Capt Brijesh Chowta will be held on January 22 at the Goldfinch city ground. Former MLC Capt Ganesh Karnik said Kambala sport needs to be preserved for future generations and youth need to be actively taking part in it.

The rich culture of the coastal belt through Kambala should be maintained, he said, seeking the support of all for the sixth Mangaluru kambala.

Two Kambalas at Katapadi (Beedu kambala) to be held on February 11, 2023, and Aikala (Bava Kambala) on January 28 are more than 100 years old and were once traditional events which later turned into competitive ones.

The competitive kambala events are held on two parallel race tracks filled with slushy fields. Buffalo owners and farmers in the region take good care of their buffalos and the best of them are well fed, oiled and nurtured for a race in kambala. Buffaloes are usually raced in pairs during a kambala event, held together with ploughs and ropes. The best of Kambala buffaloes can cover a 140-meter race track in around 12 seconds. The jockey or kambala runner is the man commanding the buffaloes and races along with them and only the most athletic youth can handle the animals.

The runner stands on a wooden plank (known as halage) supported to the setup that holds two buffaloes together (called Negilu). The Kambala runner controls the buffaloes with a whip or ropes.

The runner also entertains spectators by splashing water as high as possible during the race. Two teams of buffaloes along with their jockeys race towards the finish line on the two parallel race tracks. Race goes on all day and winners qualify for the next rounds. Kambala events usually begin in November after the October paddy harvest is done. More than 45 villages in coastal Karnataka celebrate the traditional, non-competitive kambala race every year. Major Kambala events are held at Aikala, Katapadi, Pilikula, Mangaluru, Moodbidri, Puttur, Paivalike, Kakkepadavu, Kulur, Surathkal, Uppinangadi, Vamanjoor and Venur.

Kambala has become an organised rural sport, with elaborate planning and scheduling to accommodate competitions at different places. While traditional Kambala was non-competitive with pairs running one by one, in the modern event, the contest generally takes place between two pairs of buffaloes. The winning pair of buffaloes were usually rewarded with coconuts and bananas. At present, winning owners earn gold and silver coins and in many competitions, cash prizes are also awarded. The length of the kambala tracks varies from 133.5 metre to 150 metre and has width from 15 feet to 17 feet.

The competitions are held in six categories of Kane halage, adda halage, hagga senior, hagga junior, naegilu hiriya and naegilu kiriya. More pairs of buffalos are expected this year for the hagga junior competitions as many youngsters are showing more interest in taking part in the events, a Kambala committee member said. The kambalas for the 2021-22 season, which began on November 27 last year, had to be temporarily cancelled due to the weekend curfew and other Covid-19 restrictions, after holding only six of the 19 scheduled events.

The events resumed on February 5, 2022 after the lifting of the curfew with a renewed calendar, listing 11 kambalas between February 5 and April 16. The kambala committee counts at least 100 jockeys taking part in the events in the region. Of them, 8 to 10 are top performers while around 20 have already displayed their brilliance in the sport. One of the jockeys, Srinivas Gowda, a construction worker, had shot into the limelight in 2020, when he covered 142.5 metres in 13.62 seconds, which when back-calculated, equates to 100-metre run in around 9.55 seconds. It was 0.03 seconds faster than Usain Bolt’s record time of 9.58 seconds. Many compared his feat to that of Bolt and Gowda was termed as the ‘Usain Bolt of Kambala.’

Later, he himself said putting him on the same plane as Usain Bolt would be a bit of a stretch. The race involves the athlete maintaining momentum with some help from his racing buffaloes.

Kambala had also stirred controversy in the past with the charge of ill-treatment of animals. In 2016, the event was banned for the first time by the High Court, based on a petition by animal rights activists group PETA. Just like the row over jallikattu in Tamil Nadu, a heated debate followed with arguments of people supporting the event and those against the rural sport. The state government later brought an ordinance in 2017 to pave the way for the continuance of kambala. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka second amendment) Act, 2017, permits kambala to be organised with restrictions to protect the animals from mistreatment. The Supreme Court has also issued several guidelines to ensure that kambala buffaloes are not harmed, tortured or ill-treated during the races. 

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News Network
January 24,2023

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Bengaluru, Jan 24: Conveying his "best wishes" to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his 'Bharat Jodo Yatra', former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda on Tuesday complimented him for fighting hatred and violence by spreading the message of harmony among people.

The JD(S) supremo has also expressed his inability to participate in the concluding function of the Yatra in Srinagar on January 30.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge has invited leaders of several like-minded parties to join the concluding function in Srinagar.

In a letter to Kharge, thanking for the invitation, Gowda said, "It is appropriate that the function is being organised on the day the father of the nation (Mahatma Gandhi) attained martyrdom."

"I may not be able to attend the function in person, but my best wishes are with Rahul Gandhi. He is fighting hatred and violence and has walked 3,500 kms from Kanyakumari to Kashmir spreading the message of harmony among people.

Please convey my deep appreciation to him," the 89-year-old leader said.

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News Network
January 17,2023

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New Delhi, Jan 17: Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a 15-minute meeting with Karnataka's former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Monday on the sidelines of the BJP national executive.

Karnataka is one of the states going to polls this year. Poll strategy for these nine states was the key agenda of the ongoing two-day executive meet in New Delhi, which is being attended by PM Modi and the key leaders and ministers of the party.

Since being removed from the top post in Karnataka - the only southern state where the BJP has made a breakthrough - Mr Yediyurappa, who has a large base of Lingayat supporters, has been keeping a low profile. But with the polls approaching, the BJP's original strongman in the south has been elevated to the parliamentary board - the party's highest decision-making body.

The meeting with PM Modi has raised speculation about a turn in fortune for the four-time Chief Minister of Karnataka.

Mr Yediyurappa's successor, Basavaraj Bommai, has been in news more for the wrong reasons than right.

Mr Bommai's tenure in the top post had looked shaky last year as the opposition heaped corruption allegations against him and started the PayCM campaign. But the party had maintained that there will be no change and the state will go to polls under his leadership.

Amit Shah, the BJP's chief strategist, has handed the Karnataka unit a "Mission 136" - winning 136 of the state's 224 seats. But it could be an uphill task in the backdrop of the Congress challenge in Karnataka, one of the few states where the party has ground-level support.

The BJP came to power in the southern state for a third time in Karnataka as the alliance government of the Congress and HD Kumaraswamy's Janata Dal Secular collapsed following an exodus by its MLAs. The ruling alliance had accused the BJP of running an Operation Lotus - - toppling an opposition government by poaching on its MLAs.

Mr Bommai and the party's state unit president Nalin Kumar Kateel also met the state general secretary in-charge Arun Singh. 

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News Network
January 15,2023

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Mangaluru, Jan 15: The Mangaluru International Airport, controlled by Adani Airports, is all set to set to increase the user development fee (UDF) for the period up to March 2026 after the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (AERA) gave the green signal.

With this the passengers flying from this airport will have to pay more from February. 

Previously, only passengers departing or embarking from MIA had to pay UDF. However, beginning February 1, all passengers arriving from various airports and leaving from MIA will be charged UDF.

MIA had moved Airports Economic Regulatory Authority, seeking a revision in the aeronautical tariff for a control period of five years from April 1, 2021, up to March 31, 2026.

MIA had pitched for a revision of airport charges, including user development fee (UDF) from passengers flying in and out of this coastal city. The fee will be hiked every financial year, both for domestic and international passengers.

New Tariff 

International travellers arriving at MIA will have to pay Rs 330 as UDF between February and March of this year which will be hiked to Rs 435 from April 2023 till March 2024 and further to Rs 480 after April 2025.

Starting April, domestic travellers will also have to pay Rs 560 towards UDF. This fee will go up further to Rs 700 from April 2024 and to Rs 735 from April 2025. Similarly, international travellers will have to cough up Rs 1,015 from April which will go up to Rs 1,120 from April 2025.

For the first time, domestic passengers arriving at MIA will have to pay an UDF of Rs 150 from April 2023 which will further go up to Rs 240 from April 2024 and Rs 315 from April 2025.

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