Buffalo race forms a part of Tulunadu culture and is prevailing only in Kasaragod Dist. and in Southern parts of Dekshina Kanada Dist. It is usually coincides with the starting of agricultural operations in the paddy fields. It declares the glorious importance of soaring and harvesting. In the beginning the race was confined to the fields prepared by ploughing. But later on it grew to a large scale involving hundreds of bull buffalos and thousands of men, conducted in extensive race fields. Strong and fatty buffaloes were breeded specifically for this purpose. There were people who devoted their entire life for the race.
Though it resembles the bull race in other parts of Kerala, the buffalo race is different in many aspects. The race course usually having a length of 500 to 100 feet and a breadth of 20 to 50 feet, formed in to large boroughs in the muddy fields which is known as Kanbalam. There used to be permanent Kanbalas or race course, in prominent places.
Races were conducted annually in those places. When unusual races are conducted occassionally, the organisers invite renouned riders to the occassion . They bring bulls and buffalos from distant places.
This grand rural sport is very popular in the northern parts of Kasaragod district especially in Kumbala and Manjeswar. The majestic and graceful animals exhibit their brutal strength and speed when aroused by the skillful riders. Though accidents occur in rare cases, by and large it is not a dangerous sport and no harm is caused to the animals or the rider.
This race gives great enthusiasm to both the spectactors and participants and keeps the cultural heritage of Tulunad alive and evergreen. No spectactor can deny the enchanting powers of this rural sport. By taking adequate measures this can be transformed into a tourist attraction.
There are two types of races. In the first case a wooden plank is connected to the yoke by a long wooden pole and a pair of buffalos harnessed to the yoke, the wooden plank touches the muddy ground in a slight angle enabling the rider to stand on it. While riding, the rider keeps his balance by clutching the tales of the buffalos. There is a hole in the wooden pole and while riding fast, the muddy water splashes through the hole. The speed of the buffaloes and the expertise of the rider are measured by computing the height reached by the splash. In the middle of the Kambala a banner is put up across it at a considerable height. It is a challenge to the rider to get the banner tarnished with the muddy water splashed through the hole of the wooden plank.
In the other case, buffalos are harnessed only with the yoke. The wooden plank and connecting pole has no role. The rider has to run after the buffaloes and the winner are selected by their speed with the use of a stop-watch.
Cock-fight is another rural attraction in Kasargod District. It has got a legendary origin and it is extensively referred in the folk songs of Malabar. Till recently cock-fights formed an inseperable and unavoidable part of temple festivals, especially in the northern parts of Kasargod district. Though it is legally forbidden, cock-fights are conducted secretly and clandestinely in many parts of the district.
In olden days a religious tint is attributed to this sport and that is why even now cock-fight is conducted in the precincts of temples. Special breeds of cocks are grown for the fight. These fighter cocks have great vigour and stamina and they exhibit formidable courage during the fight. A sharp double edged small weapon is tied to one of the legs of the bird. The fighter bird rises high and tries to kick the enemy bird. Usually one of the birds gets fatally wounded and dies. Sometimes the defeated bird runs off from the arena. The owner of the successful cock is entitled to get the defeated or killed cock. If both cocks are killed in the fight the owners used to exchange the dead birds. Large scale betting is also prevalant in many parts.
Instant traditional treatment are given to the wounded cocks from the fighting arena, making them fit again to resume the fight. The owners are well versed with the physiological features of a good fighter cock and they derive this knowledge from the ancestors. It provides an entertainment to the rural folks, even though we have to admit that it is a cruel sport, causing immense pain and harm to the poor creatures. This also keeps the cultural heritage of Tulunadu, alive and there is no doubt about its enchanting powers. Women are prohibited from watching this sport.