Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and the state’s Kambala committees seem to have taken a cue from the Jallikattu protests to find a way to legitimise the annual cultural buffalo race – which was banned and the case is being heard in court right now for lifting of the ban. Tamil masses led huge agitations for revoking the ban on Jallikattu and finally succeeded with the passage of an ordinance that legalised the traditional bull-taming sport.
The Tamil Nadu government’s ordinance allowing Jallikattu may also lead to many other states taking the same route and in the process overriding judicial orders in order to hold banned animal sports in their states.
“We are in favour of Kambala. It is an old traditional game and it has to be continued. We will examine it that whether to bring an ordinance or not. If necessary, we will do it,” Siddaramaiah said on Tuesday.
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The Karnataka High Court passed an interim order on a petition filed by animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in November last year that stayed holding of Kambala in the state. The Kannada committee filed an interim application that sought vacation of the interim stay order but the case was adjourned till January 30, 2017.
The traditional folk sport finds mention in ancient texts and is traditionally held in paddy fields between November and March when the fields are flushed with water. Similar to Jallikattu, the sport is deeply ingrained in the culture of south Karnataka and coastal Karnataka. Eighteen Kambala races are held under a Kambala Samithi and 27 others are held under the auspices of temples, local land lords, politically influential houses and descendants of royal families.
Much like Kambala, other states have folk sports which are ingrained in their traditions and cultures but are banned currently by judicial order. There are other animal sports as well which are banned in many states. Cockfighting was banned by the Hyderabad High Court in December last year in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Bullock cart racing is also banned in Maharashtra and several political actors including some Shiv Sena members have started raising demands for lifting ban on such races.