The Karnataka government on Saturday decided to amend laws legalising Kambala, a traditional annual buffalo race held in Mangalore and Udupi. Bullock cart race, another popular sport held in the Uttara Kannada district, will also be legalised through amendments.
The decision to amend the law was taken at the cabinet meeting on Saturday evening. The amendment comes in the wake of a growing clamour to allow traditional sports that are prevalent in the coastal Karnataka regions, after protests and social media campaigns demanded the revival of these sports, despite a court ban.
Kambala was banned by the Karnataka High Court after animal rights group filed a petition seeking a ban on the grounds of cruelty against animals in sports like bull-taming and buffalo-racing and bullock cart race.
The race is usually organised by farming groups in the coastal regions between November and February, between the two cropping seasons. The locals believe that the buffalo race through marshy paddy fields improves the quality of the soil.
The organisers of Kambala had, along with the people, on Friday held a protest in Hubli demanding the ban be lifted. The call gained momentum after the Jallikattu protest, which lasted several days at Chennai’s Marina Beach, mounted pressure on the Tamil Nadu government to promulgate an ordinance lifting the ban on the bull-taming sport.
Karnataka, too, saw many groups demanding that ordinance be promulgated to allow Kambala. The government had argued in court earlier that buffaloes were not among the animals banned by the central government for use in sport (Bulls are). Further, the government had said there was no cruelty in Kambala as against in Jallikattu, where the deaths were reported every year. The Central government, too, has indicated that it will stand by the state’s decision to support Kambala.