The coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi are all set for the kambala (a traditional slush-track buffalo race) from this Saturday, with 18 races lined up for the 2018-19 season.
The first race, named ‘sathya-dharma’, is scheduled at Kakkyapadavu, Bantwal taluk in Dakshina Kannada on November 24. The last and the 18th ‘soorya-Chandra’ kambala will be conducted at Talapady-Panjala in Mangaluru taluk on March 23, 2019.
Karnataka government had promulgated Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 on July 20 last year. The President gave his assent to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Bill making Kambala a legal rural sport in Karnataka. The Bill seeks to exempt kambala and bullock-cart racing from the ambit of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960.
Kambla in its traditional form is non-competitive with buffalo pairs made to race one after another in paddy fields, which is considered a thanksgiving to the Gods for protecting the animals from diseases.
Over the years, it has, however, become an organized sport with animal rights activists claiming that the buffaloes run in the race due to fear of being beaten, which the organizers dismiss, saying no violence is involved and that several modifications had been made to ensure that it is an animal-friendly event.