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Bengaluru set to host Namma Kambala buffalo race for the first time: Here’s all you need to know

The inaugural Namma Kambala buffalo race is set to debut in Bengaluru this year. Hailing from the coastal region of Karnataka, this time-honoured buffalo race, deeply embedded in the local culture of Tulunadu, guarantees an exceptional blend of tradition and thrill, promising an exciting fusion of cultural heritage and excitement.

Kambala, a famed traditional buffalo racing competition in coastal Karnataka, is ready to make a mark this weekend in Bengaluru. On November 25 and 26, the folk sport will be hosted in the Palace Grounds in the heart of the city. This is the first time that the Kambala race will be taking place in Bengaluru.

The traditional buffalo race, which originates in coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi in Karnataka and is firmly rooted in Tulunadu’s local culture, boasts a unique blend of history and enthusiasm. The festival is dedicated to the Kadri Manjunath incarnation of Lord Shiva.

The preparations for the grand race are going on in full swing with participants washing and taking trial runs of their two sets of buffaloes. Around 200 pairs of buffaloes, along with their owners, are expected to arrive in Bengaluru today from the coastal areas.

Around four to eight lakh people are anticipated to attend the mega event showcasing the local tradition and devotion towards Mahadev. The Bengaluru Kambala debut will be distinguished by the thorough preparation of enormous galleries, a special pooja, and a record-breaking 155-meter track, assuring a one-of-a-kind show. The main stage at the Palace Grounds has been named after the late Kannada actor Puneeth Raj Kumar.

Several celebrities have been invited to attend the event including actresses Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Shilpa Shetty, Anushka Shetty, and Kannada star Darshan among others. Notably, V. Manohar’s “Bengaluru Kambala -Namma Kambala” theme song, with music by Gurukiran, had recently been released.

Meanwhile, a traffic advisory has been issued by the authorities. The Bengaluru Traffic Police Department has issued an advisory asking commuters to avoid specific roads and take alternate routes. The police said that parking will be provided at Krishna Vihar (Gate No-1) and Tripuravasini (Gate No-2) of Palace Grounds. In addition, Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru has also advised passengers to plan their travel and commute on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday so that they have enough time to go to the airport. Passengers were also advised to check with airlines for alerts and updates.

Earlier, it was reportedly claimed that there would be an entry fee. However, Muralidhar Rai Matanthabettu, Working President of the Bangalore Carpet Committee, stressed that there will be no entry fee or advance ticket purchases required for spectators. All the devotees and spectators are welcome to attend.

“It has come to our attention that some claim there is an entry fee for Bengaluru Kambala viewing, and that advance ticket booking is required.” However, this is different. This is not something that people should believe. I’d like to emphasise that there is no ticket or entry charge for Bengaluru Kambala. “All fans and spectators will be welcome,” Muralidhar Rai Matanthabettu informed Udayavani.

Kambala Bengaluru brings political rivals together

On Thursday, BJP leader Umesh Shetty and Congress MLA from Puttur Ashok Kumar Rai joined forces to organise Kambala in a rare display of camaraderie. According to reports, both have been involved in the preparations for the mega event of the Hindu festival. Notably, Umesh Shetty is the organising president of the Bengaluru Kambala Committee while Congress leader Ashok Kumar Rai is the president of the committee. Both the leaders said that although they have ideological differences, however, for the centuries-old tradition they have come together.

Kambala race

Kambala is an ancient celebration in coastal Karnataka devoted to Lord Kadri Manjunatha, a manifestation of Lord Shiva. Every year, following the paddy harvest, the villagers hold a festival to express their gratitude to the almighty for a good harvest.

As is known, Buffaloes are a vital component of farming life, so villagers have long held buffalo races during this festival, believing that the sport will provide buffaloes with continued health. There are many different beliefs and accounts of how the races began. It was a type of leisure or recreational sport for the farming community, according to popular tradition. The winner of the buffalo race received a coconut and other prizes.

Image via IndiaTours

It is also stated that the Kings of the Hoysala dynasty began the ritual for their own amusement and to see if buffaloes could be trained and used in battle. The feudal lords of those regions carried on the custom, which still continues now.

Every year, about 45 villages in coastal Karnataka celebrate the Kambála race in the months of November and March. On the two parallel race courses, two teams of buffaloes and their jockeys race to the finish line. The race continues for all day, and the winners advance to the next round. Apart from crossing the finish line first, awards are also awarded for splashing water high enough to reach the target (Kolu) set above.

It is also worth noting that the Supreme Court of India earlier banned Kambala after multiple petitions were filed against animal cruelty during the race. However, as a traditional sport, the Kambala festival was re-legalized in 2017 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Ordinance. The Supreme Court upheld the law allowing Kambala and Jallikattu in May of this year.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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