"Maramadi"bull racing competition is an annual festival



India is rich in her cultural heritage and ethnic background. So much so that India houses a prototype of every sport, every game of the world, although adapted to her society and to suit the citizens of the country. Parallel to the Tauromachy or Bull fights of Spain are the Jallikattu of Tamil Nadu and the Maramadi of Kerala.

The Maramadi is an annual festival (known as Maramadi Mahotsavam), held during the post harvest season in the villages of Kerala. It is a bull racing competition and the freshly ploughed fields (in which paddy is not yet sown) are put to best use by creating a racing track for the oxen and bulls.

The fields, known as kandams are filled with water and the muddy water splash about as the bulls are raced by their guides. The villagers gather around these fields keeping safe distance. The air is rent with excitement fervor as there is stiff competition over these races.

Every pair of oxen or bulls is managed by about three farmers who act as the guides. They enter the competition as one unit. Almost 30 such units compete in these races. The audience cheers the favorite entries and emotions run high throughout (noon to sundown) as long as the competition lasts.

These guides, like Matadors are adept in managing the bulls and steer them in the right direction during the course of the competition. Nowadays, different categories have been introduced. These are the 'Idathu Kayar' category, the `speed' category and the 'champion' category.

The bulls and oxen to are specially bred and trained. They are well fed and well groomed. On the race day they are dresses in colors and their horns specially painted.

The most famous among the Maramadi races is held in Anandapali village Pathnamthitta District near Adoor City (1km away) in Kerala. Here it is held around August 15th every year and coincides with the Onam celebrations. 'Maramadi' is also a major attraction in the festival, 'Kakkoor Kalavayal' held every year at Kakoor village of Ernakulam district.