The sport of taming the bull

The sport of taming the bull

After year-long toiling in the fields and the harvest season drawing to a close, farmers in North Karnataka engage in festivities and entertaining activities which give them the much-needed break. Usually, rural sports are arranged to rejuvenate farmers and bring them together. As cattle are the best friends of farmers, bulls, oxen and buffaloes are also involved in these celebrations.

One such rural sport popular in North Karnataka is bull-taming competition, known as Hori Habba or Hori Bedarisuvudu or Kari Biduvudu in Kannada. Every year, bull-taming events are held in various places like Haveri, Byadagi, Malluru, Hangal, Devihosuru, Shikaripur, Karjagi, Masuru, Devagiri and Huluginkoppa. Hundreds of bulls from Haveri, Shivamogga and Dharwad districts participate in these festivals or competitions. Also, a number of local youths participate in the event.

Initially, farmers form committees to organise the competition. The committee frames the rules and announces it through pamphlets. Then, a path in the village is chosen for the bulls to run. Arrangements are made for children, men and women to watch the competition and cheer the youths who try to tame and stop the bulls. While many spectators stand on either side of the bull's path, others sit on the trees or on the terrace of their houses to enjoy the sight of running bulls. This event, at some places, attracts more than 50,000 people.
Those who tame the bull or snatch the garland of copras or any other things tied around the bull's neck get prizes.

The owners of the bulls, which reach the goal post without being touched by any contestant, also get prizes like 40 to 50 grams of gold, copper water containers, bikes etc. Those who succeed in taming and stopping the bulls get a silver sword.
Young farmers name these bulls after their favourite national leaders, cinema stars, local heroes and film titles like 'Jogi', ' Adhyaksha' , 'Bahaddur', 'Tsunami', 'Hatavadi', 'Betegaara', 'Annadaata', 'Chinnatada Chaluva', 'Rajkumara', 'Yash', etc. These names render the air as the competition becomes intense.

Meanwhile, the villagers put in special efforts to prepare these bulls for the competition. They feed them with nutritious food to make them healthy and strong. They  wash them, paint them with colours and deck them up with colourful ribbons, plastic flowers, balloons, etc to make them look attractive.

Though bull-taming is enjoyed in the rural areas as a sport, there are many people who view it as a dangerous sport. "Bull taming is a risky affair. Youths tame the bull considering the movement and mood of the bull which is sometimes unpredictable," says Manish Havanoor, a youth.

In spite of being careful, there have been instances of spectators and youngsters getting injured while taming the bull. So, any level of precaution taken to conduct this event seems to be insufficient.

(Translated by Divyashri Mudakavi)  

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