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
July 6,2024

Mangaluru: The Karnataka Development Programme (KDP) meeting chaired by district minister Dinesh Gundu Rao here on Friday, debated why Dakshina Kannada had not been sanctioned houses for the poor under various government schemes after the 2021-2022 period.

Puttur MLA Ashok Kumar Rai, raising the issue, said that although housing schemes had been sanctioned for all districts across the state, Dakshina Kannada had not been considered after 2021-22.

“It has been brought to my notice during a discussion with the housing minister, that the district has not submitted a demand for houses between 2021-22 and 2024-25,” Rai said.

When an official cited a technical reason, the minister stated that it was a serious lapse on the part of the officials. 

“There is a need for the initiation of disciplinary action against the concerned officials, because the district failed to sanction houses in the past four years, despite having government land. We cannot tolerate negligence in the implementation of the housing scheme for the poor,” the minister said. Officials informed that in the 10 years between 2010 and 2020, the district was sanctioned 64,123 houses. While 48,252 houses have been built, work on 4,898 is in progress, and the remaining are yet to be started.

Dakshina Kannada ZP CEO Anandh K said that as per a survey conducted in 2018, the district has a demand for 49,715 houses. However, no houses were sanctioned after 2022, he said.

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News Network
July 8,2024

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A leading general medical journal has estimated that the death toll from Israel’s genocidal war on the Gaza Strip could be 186,000 or even more, translating to 7.9 percent of the population in the Palestinian territory.

In a report published on Friday, The Lancet said the figure includes both direct and indirect deaths from the Israeli onslaught and those still buried under the rubble in the besieged Gaza.

The journal added that it had applied a conservative estimate of four indirect deaths per one direct death reported by the Gaza Health Ministry.

“It is not implausible to estimate that up to 186,000 or even more deaths could be attributable to the current conflict in Gaza,” it said.

Israel unleashed its brutal Gaza offensive on October 7 after the Palestinian Hamas resistance group carried out its historic operation against the occupying entity in retaliation for the regime’s intensified atrocities against the Palestinian people.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, the Tel Aviv regime has so far killed at least 38,514 Palestinians, mostly women and children, in Gaza. The ministry announces the death toll only after receiving the dead bodies. 

The figure provided by the ministry is “likely an underestimate,” The Lancet said. “The total death toll is expected to be large given the intensity of this conflict; destroyed health-care infrastructure; severe shortages of food, water, and shelter; the population’s inability to flee to safe places; and the loss of funding to UNRWA, one of the very few humanitarian organizations still active in the Gaza Strip.”

It also called for an immediate and urgent ceasefire in Gaza accompanied by measures to enable the distribution of medical supplies, food, clean water, and other resources for basic human needs.

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coastaldigest.com news network
June 28,2024

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Mangaluru: A 21-year-old woman was allegedly electrocuted in a village in Belthangady taluka in Dakshina Kannada district, police said on Friday. 

The deceased has been identified as Pratiksha Shetty, they said, adding that the incident happened in Shibaje village within the Dharmasthala police limits on Thursday evening.

According to police, the woman had stepped out of her house to collect a parcel when she was electrocuted. An insulator of an electricity wire had broken and fallen into the water-filled trench, resulting in Pratiksha’s electrocution. 

She was heading towards the main road, just 100 meters from her home, to collect an online parcel she had ordered. The trench, which becomes waterlogged during the monsoon, lay in her path. 

She was electrocuted on the spot. Her father, Ganesh Shetty, also received a shock while attempting to rescue her.

Pratiksha was a resident of Bargula hamlet in Shibaje village, a police official said. The body was handed over to the family after the post-mortem, the official added.

This is the second incident of electrocution this week. Earlier, two autorickshaw drivers had come into contact with a live cable in Pandeshwar in Mangaluru city on Tuesday and died, police said.

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