Kangayam breed will become extinct if ban on rekla race continues

A pair of Kangayam bulls speeding at the rekla race in Coimbatore early last year before the race was banned.— File Photo: M. Periyasamy
A pair of Kangayam bulls speeding at the rekla race in Coimbatore early last year before the race was banned.— File Photo: M. Periyasamy

 More than seven months after the Supreme Court banned conducting jallikattu and rekla race, farmers and rekla race organisers of Pollachi and nearby areas are still in wait with the hope that the ban will soon be lifted. Rekla race organisers said that the Kangayam breed that was predominantly used for the race would become extinct in a few months if the ban was not lifted soon.

Rekla race organiser V. Senthil Kumar (38) said that contestants from the region used to participate in races in Dharapuram, Udumalpet, Marathukulam, Palani, Palladam, Sulur, Kinathukadavu, Vettaikaranpudur, Anamalai and vice versa. “About 250 carts participate in each race,” he said.
S. Prabakran (41) of C. Arthanaripalayam near Pollachi, who has participated in over a hundred races, and organised many, said that about 100 villages in and around Pollachi used to organise rekla race every year.

He said that competitions were organised once in two weeks, as part of temple festival or celebrations such as Pongal.

He told The Hindu that the race was conducted in two categories - 200 meter for the young bulls and 300 meters is the open category. He said that in April 2014 he bought a well trained winning race ox for Rs. 2 lakh. “I waited for the ban to be lifted till September and sold it for a mere Rs. 40,000 for slaughtering,” he lamented.

Rekla race enthusiasts said that the Kangayam breed cows yield a maximum of five litres milk a day. The cows are grown only for breeding as their calves fetched good money. K.S. Akilan (32) of Kaliyapuram said that a pair of untrained calves bought for Rs. 80,000 to Rs. One lakh when the races were conducted are now available for less than Rs. 40,000. But there were not many buyers.
“I had three pairs of race oxen and sold five animals for butchering as they needed special care and attention that comes with a price. I have only one ox to remind me that I organised such races,” he said and expressed concern that the drop in demand for calves due to the ban on rekhla races would force farmers growing Kangayam breed quit breeding.

He said that the population of Kangayam breed oxen in the village that was close to 60 about a year ago had come down to less than a handful.

The few racers, who had the race bulls, continued giving practice for their animals by making them plough the field for about an hour every day and run short distances at top speed, so that they would race someday if the ban was lifted.



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