Kambala is a traditional buffalo race held every year in paddy fields filled with mud and slush from December to March at different places. Kambala is basically a rural sport popular in the districts of Mangalore and Udupi in Karnataka and Kasargod district in Kerala collectively known as the Tulunadu. According to some accounts, though the origin of the Kambala race is shrouded with mystery, this buffalo race is more than 1000 years old.
In the past, Kambala was the event when farmers paid tribute to their gods for protecting their crops. There used to be lot of celebration and games as part of this festive atmosphere. Some say that Kambala also marked the beginning of sowing operations for the second round of crops known as Suggi.
The Mangalore Kambala, popularly known as the Mangalore Hobali Kambala, is an annual feature at the Kadri Kambala fields known as Kadri Kambalaguthu. In the past, this village sport flourished under the royal patronage of kings and famous households in Mangalore. In the olden days, the buffaloes were brought in procession to the accompaniment of the loud beats of drums and dance.
According to some estimate, there are more than 45 Kambalas held annually, starting from November to March in the Tulunadu. Nearly 18 of the Kambalas are held under a Kambala Samithi and the rest are held under the auspices of temples and with political patronage. The Kambala at Moodubelle on Friday, 13th November 2009 could neither attract more than three pairs of buffaloes nor a large number of audiences. The Kambala was held just as an annual ritual. There was neither any publicity nor any prizes to the winning pair of buffaloes. In the past there used to be a large number of buffaloes and people who used to participate in this Kambala.
This Year Some Kambala Schedule in Udupi Mangalore
06-12-09 Saturday Shirva Soorya – Chandra Kambala
12-12-09 Saturday Baradi Beedu Soorya – Chandra Kambala
19-12-09 Saturday Katapadi Beedu Moodu Padu Kambala
27 – 12- 09 Sunday Mulki Moodu Padu Kambala
02-01-10 Saturday Ikala – Bava Kantha bare – Booda bare Kambala
10-01-10 Sunday Miyar – Karkala Lava – Kusha Kambala
16-01-10 Saturday Adve – Nandikoor Kote Chennayya Kambala
30-01—10 Saturday Barkur – Althar Kshetrapatla – Nagaraja Kmabala
07-02-10 Sunday Permude – Venoor Soorya – Chandra Kambala
20-02-10 Saturday Pajir Lava – Kusha Kambala
27-02-10 Saturday Idu Jaya – Vijaya Kambala
07-03-10 Sunday Puttur Kote Chennayya Kambala
13-03-10 Saturday Pilikula Nethravathi – Palguni Kambala
As most of the people have given up or reduced agriculture due to various reasons, they have got rid of the buffaloes and those few who still venture to cultivate their land depend on the machine tillers. Besides, lack of political patronage and incentive to the buffalo owners in terms of medals or cash prizes have resulted in the lack of enthusiasm on the part of the people in this kind of Kambala.
It is important that the traditional village culture such as the Kambalas should be promoted and preserved as an identity of the Tulunadu which has been rich in cultural heritage.