is a popular folk-sport involving the racing of he-buffalos in a wet and
soggy paddy field or an artificial pond created along the sandy dunes on the
banks of a river. This is an activity unique to the Tulu culture and practiced
in the districts of
Kambalas are usually held in the interval between November and March. There are four types of kambalas which are respectively called ‘bAre KambaLa’, ‘pUkare kambaLa’, ‘arasu kambaLa’ and the modern variety that is in vogue currently. In ‘bAre kambaLa’ and ‘pUkare kambaLa’ the race itself is perfunctory and the rituals assume greater significance. In ‘bALe kambaLa’, planting of a banana sapling in the centre of the field is more important than the running of the buffalo which is merely symbolic. In ‘arasu kambaLa’ both the race and rituals are equally important. In modern times, the rituals have receded to the back ground and the competitions are all important.
The rituals connected with kambala commence a few days before the event and continue even after the race is over. Inviting the elders of the village, decorating the Kambala field, worshiping of various folk deities, DOlu kuNita, songs recited by people belonging to the koraga and munDAla communities and a procession of the bufalloes are conducted in a ceremonious manner.
There are four types of KambaLa depending on the modus operandi of the race per se. In ‘haggada Ota’, the buffalos are made to carry a yoke and a person runs behind them holding the rope tied to the centre of the yoke. In ‘aDDa halage OTa’ the person is required to stand on a board that is connected to the yoke and race the buffalos. In ‘nEgila OTa’ the yoke is replaced by the plough and the driver holds the plough which in turn is connected to the buffalos. In these three varieties the pair that reaches the end (manjoTTi) first is declared as the winner. But in the fourth variety which is called ‘kaNe halage OTa’ winner is decided in a different manner. Large sheets of cloth or wooden boards are tied at a height of approximately eight meters on either side of the field. These are known as ‘nishAne’s. The height to which the combination of mud and water reaches during the run becomes the criteria for victory. The owners of the winning buffalos are presented with gold medals and shields. The animals are rewarded with delicious food such as bananas and tender coconuts.
Kambalas have gradually become very ostentatious and prestige oriented. However, they continue to be an integral part of the cultural fabric in the coastal regions.
1. The World's Best Photos of kambala. Flickr Hive Mind Search (Very good photographs)
2. Karnataka, India: Buffalo Racing In Muddy Waters (An article, few photographs and a video)