Kambala is the traditional sport of Buffalo racing held across various towns/villages across coastal Karnataka. Kambala season lasts from November to March and is more of a fair attracting participation from various village teams; although a fair share of betting is involved, the purists race mainly for pride than the money. One of the most famous and renowned Kambala is held at Kadri in Mangalore. I visited the Kambala at Mulki – about 30 kms from Mangalore during the last week of December 2012.
Kambala has been in existence since couple of centuries across various hamlets of coastal Karnataka – In the recent past, most of the kamabalas are held under the supervision of Kamabala Samhiti (Kambala Association).
Kambala is held on a paddy field along two straight parallel tracks of about 200 -400 metres in length filled with slush, water and mud. Two buffalos along with one rider/runner run on each of these mud tracks.
Apart from the head-to-head racing (similar to an automobile drag racing) in the Kambala, we have the highest splash competition – where the buffalo which splashes the mud to the maximum height is the winner.
Kambala is organised during the day and at nights as well – although the daytime is a good chance to mix with the locals, listen to the Kambala stories, its heroes, taste those yummy foods in the stalls. It is during the night when this place really comes alive – as much as I don’t want to say it –”You haven’t witnessed the real Kambala if you haven’t seen it under floodlights PERIOD”.
I mean its magical – suddenly you are transported to this movie set – with people dressed in colourful clothes, kids adoring these racers in awe , guys with 6-pack abs who run faster than the best athletes in the world, to buffaloes which spew aggression with every breath and yet listen to the kids and come-up with expressions I never expected from such tough looking creatures.The energy and the vibes from this event so out out of the world and addictive.
Shame, it took me so long to see a live Kambala.