The Indian state of Karnataka is the traditional home of the lively and exhilarating Kambala buffalo racing festivals.
The racing is a hectic affair. Either single buffalo or two joined together, beautifully groomed and oiled are attached to a heavy wooden yoke which has what could be described as a joystick attached to it. The bulls look super fit and built of nothing but bone and solid muscle and with wild temperaments that are often tough to control. They have several men in attendance, some holding and leading them, others shouting instructions and yet more continuously dowsing them with cooling water.
The overall impression is of well fed, affectionately nurtured animals under a strict regime of discipline maintained by what sometimes appears to be slightly brutal practices. At the start and end of each race there is a great deal of pulling, shouting and some use of the whip but it seems that the hide of these sturdy beasts have strong resilience.
When both competitors are ready, a flag drops and the bulls run off at incredible speed along the water filled track. It has to be said that their controllers, who are also super fit seem to be holding on for dear life as their feet leave the ground and their legs spiral as if on cartoon characters but surely the experienced onlooker would see nothing but grace and skill.
The races are short, fast and exciting and the overall winners in each category are produced by the familiar knockout process.