In the small hamlet of Napara in Purulia,far from the eyes of animal rights activists,locals have been arranging buffalo fight for the last 15 years,which they say is an effort to preserve their culture and tradition.
Strong buffaloes with their glistening horns are pitted against each other and at stake is a cash prize,of course for the owners of the buffalo.
Every year on October 15,locals gather at a field to get entertained by the buffalo duel. The rule is simple. There is no entry fees,no participation fees. Anyone who can beat the buffalo of the organising committee stands to win a handsome prize. The first prize is Rs 21,000,second prize is Rs 20,000 and there is a cycle to be won. Again,if any buffalo takes on the numero uno buffalo,then irrespective of the result,the owner of that buffalo gets a horse, said Aparup Singh,one of the members of Manbhum Lok Sanskriti,which organises the fight.
Buffaloes are trained throughout the year with special diet and training. The diet consists of wheat,pulses and rice. It is believed that if the animal is let out during the day,it loses its anger,an integral part of winning the fight. So they are kept in the dark throughout the day and taken out for a walk only after dusk.
On Monday,people started thronging the place from the wee hours in the morning. They came from as far as Jharkhand to watch and participate. The entire place wore the look of a carnival with hundreds of makeshift shops selling several delicacies and country liquor.
Processions led by bands brought in the livestock and buffaloes. At 10.10 am the first fight between the Number 1 buffalo and that of Santosh Kumar Kudagara began. It didnt last for long as within minutes the challenger was driven out of the field by the reigning champion. Meanwhile,a man gets hurt and breaks his leg. So what if I am hurt. I will have to return to this place next year. This is too exciting, said Nepal Sahish. The fight came to an abrupt stop when a contender for the prize money did not want to set his buffalo against the Number 2.
Surprisingly,the organisers do not bother to take permission from authorities. What do we need permission for? This is an effort to keep the traditional event alive and we dont see any harm or risk in it, said Singh. The DM of Purulia,Md Ghulam Ali Ansari,said he did not know of any such event. I have just joined. I will have to enquire before I can comment, he said.