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Traditional Animal Sports in India

23-09-2017 01:30 PM | Lathika Saju | My Indian Dream

Traditional Animal Sports in India | My Indian Dream

Animal sports in India are lesser known, but it is very popular in some states and forms an inherent part of people's tradition and culture.

The bull taming sport of Tamil Nadu Jallikattu brought into spotlight many traditional animal sports in India that has been going on through generations. They form an indispensable part of our culture and celebrations and that is the reason why the government had to give in to the demands of protesters and lift the ban on this bull taming game. Here are some animal sports that has been prevalent in India for a long time.


Kambala ( buffalo racing), Karnataka:

Kambala is an annual buffalo race carried on in muddy fields, especially popular in the coastal rural communities of Karnataka's Dakshina Kannada and Udipi. This popular state sport is conducted between November and March. Each team has two buffaloes and is led by a farmer. The tracks are 120 by 160 metres in length and eight by twelve metre in width. A huge crowd gathers to witness the event. Earlier people were rewarded with coconuts, but now they are presented with gold medals and trophies. 


Bulbul fights, Assam:

Assam's harvest festival Bhogali Bihu witnesses traditional bulbul ( nightingale) fights organized in Hayagriva Madhava temple in Hajo, about 30 Km to the west of Guwahati. Legend has it that the great Ahom king, Swargadeo Pramatta Singha started the bulbul fight during his rule between 1744 and 1751. Once while descending the stairs of the temple, he was so amused to see two bulbul birds fighting that he ordered his people to catch bulbuls and organize their fights. This tradition continued for ages until it was banned two years ago. The people of Assam want the ban to be lifted as they feel that the Boghali Bihu celebrations are incomplete without the bulbul fights.


Traditional Polo, Sagol Kangjei, Manipur:

The traditional Manipuri Polo also known as Sagol Kangjei is a delight to watch. In this game, people ride on the Manipuri pony and play polo. The players ride the ponies barefooted without modern leather saddles or reins. There are no goal posts and player scores by hitting the ball out of either end of the field. Each side has seven players. One interesting fact of this game is that when the referee throws the ball, any player can score by catching it and riding to the either side. People believe that this traditional Manipuri game, Sagol Kangjei gave birth to the modern polo.


Cock fighting, Andhra Pradesh:

In Andhra Pradesh, cock fighting is a part of the Sankranti celebrations. Even though it is banned, cockfighting continues to be organized in many places. The cocks are specially bred to increase their stamina and strength. They are given the best care till they reach two years of age. They are conditioned much like professional athletes prior to the event or shows. People place huge bets and end up either winning the booty or losing it during the fights.


Bullock cart race, Maharashtra:

The tradition of bullock cart race in Maharashtra dates back to 450 years. It is in no way linked to the buffalo race, Kambala in Karnataka nor is it linked to any festival. The race is widely popular in Konkan and western Maharashtra. The rider cannot use any kind of weapon that would harm the bulls. A pair of bullocks cannot participate in more than 20 race in a year. The racing season starts after Sankranti and lasts till monsoon arrives. This race was banned in 2014. Many locals want the ban to be lifted. They argue that they treat the bulls like their sons. None of the bulls is injured. It generates economy in that particular village. The daily turnover on a racing day is not less than Rs15 lakh. It includes the business of small traders and wages to farmer's aides who help them in transporting the bulls to the racing venue.

Though these sports are widely popular in their respective states, some of them were banned in 2014 following objections raised by PETA ( People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)  stating that the sports inflicted cruelty on animals. After the court revoked the ban on Jallikattu, now people are protesting to lift the ban on some of the above sports as well. 

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