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Term report for

anthropology

Bull racing

Made by bijar khan domki


Bba 3/1
Submitted to miss. Betina
robotka
INTRODUCTION

The very reason I chose this topic was because I wanted to depict my
cultural background, I wanted to display my real identity , my heritage,
my sense of belonging to a place. Although I have intermingled with the
urban man since I was a child, but occasionally I have been part of the
rural population of my area. It was during this time that I got to
understand the ways of the people, understand their mindset, their habit
patterns, understand their varying personalities.i have an opportunity to
give out knowledge about my peoples culture to the urbanites
(karachietes) and maybe to the whole country. Now, one of their most
favourite pastimes is bull racing, and that is why I thought that I should
do a detailed project on it in order to understand the whole concept
behind it and to share this knowledge with my fellow anthropologists at
I.B.A.
Bull racing is a very old tradition in sindh, it takes place in different
cities and villages throughout sindh, cities like khairpur,sukkur,
shikarpur, thatta, larkana, sehwand, mirpurkhas, moro, Jacobabad(my
district). It is also a part of Punjab”s culture and is very prominent in
gujarkhan, sahiwal, sheikhupura, Rawalpindi, chitral, Lahore, Sialkot.
My focus here is going to be sindh because I belong here, but I will also
depict the Punjabi practice in detail and compare the two provincial
practices.
Also, I will add a little international perspective to it , as it takes place in
different parts of south asia as well as Africa.
TOPIC
The topic, bull racing itself is a concept applicable to basic agrarian
societies only.
Agrarian societies : an agararian society is one that focuses mainly on
agro based products, where the source of income is mostly agriculture.
Our country in an agricultural state, and bull racing is a part of it. It is
one of the most prominent pastimes of rural people. The agararian
culture still persists in our state and hence this traditional practice lives
on.

Tribal culture : due to lack of amenities people are motivated towards


primitive activities.it promotes primitism, not a very modern society
Cultural Materialism : the rural population value their bull’s , and almost
every household has one. so they utilize this possession of theirs and
they cherish the best of their breeds and the best animals amongst them.
Kinship : often it is a family tradition to be part of this sport , and the
hobby being passed on from father to son. As a child , youngsters see
their elders taking active part in the sport and enjoying it to the fullest,
so they too get motivated and feel the urge to do it themselves when they
grow up. Often a certain breed stays in the family for decades
reproducing and passing on from father to son.
Cross cultural analysis : well although this practice is common to many
areas in our own country and is also practiced throughout southAsia in
countries like India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Srilanka and the
Maldives.
Symbolic value : the symbolic value of the bull to the rural population is
immense , as has been previously discussed.
Traditional society: as part of a rural society people still have most of
their values intact and those who don’t are considered corrupt and out of
line. For such a society this primitive form of sport and entertainment
remains of great value.

METHODOLOGY
Bull racing is an old tradition , and there is not much research on the topic
available on the internet, or in magazines. I tried different libraries but very few
had any material on this, and none had a detailed report or book.

So I decided that I would take up this task , gather sufficient information about
bull racing and then share it with my class and also post it on my blogs. To do this I
needed to find the relevant sources and my sources needed to be authentic, the
questions I was to ask them needed to be structured properly so as to get the right
kind of information. This was a particularly difficult task because the my sample
population is not educated. Illiterate people are not aware of the charactertistics
and the format of reports and research papers, they are not very specific about
answering questions,often they will give you irrelevant info, plus they love to
discuss other things like politics, the would not understand the importance of a
research project.

First of all I interviewed the “FAIS”. This is the person who is responsible for
training the race bull. He could be called the most important person for the bull, he
is responsible for the diet of the bull, for the exercise , for the massage ,muscle
stretching. I started off by asking him about the bulls diet , and he mentioned the
fact that it is very much different from a normal bulls diet because it consists of
protein rich diet rather than fat and carbohydrate rich.
Then I interviewed the manager of the bull. He is the person responsible for
arranging race venues, dealing with the opponents, deciding on the bet rate and
dealings with the bookies, spreading the word out to the public. He is the front line
man, he is the spokesperson for the bull as well as its owner. I asked him about the
race venue, the management of the events, the bets and prizes, the timings and the
season.

Then I interviewed the owner of the bull. My cousin, jazib khan domki owns many
race bulls, so he proved to be a valuable source of information. He gave me a lilltle
background on the sport, about how my grandfather used to love this sport, how
active our family is in the sport. Plus, he gave me details about the pricing of these
bulls, the markets, who owns the top most bulls in the province, the interprovincial
games that take place, and most importantly he mentioned different breeds/”nasal”
of bulls that are used in races.

Then I asked my dad a couple of questions regarding the cultural significance of


the sport, what it meant for the tribe and the area. He told me that when a
bullowner won, his tribe got specially jubiliated and celebrated all day long. The
town/city people would talk about it for days, each person tying to tell the story in
a different way than the other.

To put it differently, my method was focused on primary research and first had
interviews. I met these people face to face or conducted interviews on the
telephone. The interviews were thorough and I had prepared my queries in advance
for each sample of the population.

As there was no source of info available on the internet or in the library, the right
kind of info was very hard to find, but thanks to my cousin who provided me with
a detailed video of the complete event . I studied the video thoroughly and put it
into words. But just to supplement the report and to facilitate the teacher I have
included a c.d of the whole event.
LIST YOUR FINDINGS
Bull racing started centuries ago, and the sport is a way of showing the rich
agrarian background of the rural inhabitants. The bull is a symbol of their society, a
symbol of strength and pride , and showing off this symbol is considered an honor
and a privilege. Bulls belonging to an area are usually called by the same name as
the place, and it is a pride for the area, for its population when their bulls are
mentioned in conversations of heroic wins and tantalizing competition.the races
take place in winters mostly , but in certain parts of Punjab some festivals are held
in may.

In sindh , the most popular breeds include the thari, which belongs to the Thar
desert area , and the nari which is actually a cross breed from balochistan. These
bulls are taller than normal ones, they are more muscular and have a straight body
stature. they have very strong legs which is considered the most important part of
the animal. A picture of the bull will depict a better visual of the beast.

Now coming to the reason behind their awesome body. These creatures receive a
very high protein and mineral diet,they are given barley, and different pulses like
bajri and joar which are both very high in fibre. This keeps their body in shape and
maintains the high energy levels needed during exercise and specially during races.
the second most important factor behind their physique is their trainer whom we
call “fais”. The duties assigned to the fais have been mentioned earlier in the
report. Now , training a bull is a difficult and rigourous excercise . and finding a
good trainer is a tedious task. There is a great demand for the expert trainer and
hence they are paid very well. The most highly paid these days is called SOOMAR
SHEIKH and he is from shikarpur.

Now about the track and the race itself. The track is a straight path , flat ground
straightened by a tractor . the bulls are supposed to run in pairs always and the
male is supposed to gather the pace and momentum and lead the female to do the
same. The track itself is 600 metres long , and the path is broad enough for two or
maybe three pairs to run simultaneously. Each pair is adjusted into a cart, which is
a different from a normal cart. It is greater in length than the usual cart, and the
seat is leaned towards the back. Traditionally the tires used to be of wood but quite
recently they changed the structure and fit in rubber tyres.just like in a horse race ,
they use a whip to stimulate the animal into more speed but this whip is different.
Its called a” chamba” and it is a lilltle pointed towards the end.

The prices of the bulls vary a lot , with the lowest selling for a 100,00 rs and going
up to 1.5 million for the best ones. This depends on two things firstly the
achievements of the bull , and secondly the breed of the animal. Top breed animals
that are physically fit are the best ones, and with good training they become
success stories. Also bets are placed within groups and friends which is sort of less
formal, but there are professional bookies on the race grounds (just like those at
horse race courses) who take collateral and place bets. Bets can go upto 100,000 at
times.

The funny part is their names, people in sindh like indina movies and dramas a lot.
They men watch Indian movies at the local hotels(dhabas) where as the women
watch Indian drama series, so people name their bulls after them . they have names
lke rishi, soojal, rhitik, prem, etc. of course, this is a very recent development , and
many still prefer traditional names depicting strength and glory. Names like
shheeh, dhadiyal, etc.
The bull represents the culture of the area, province, country. Agrarian culture has
bull as its symbol, the cultivation used to be done by bulls, although tractors have
taken over now but even these tractors take their symbolic significance from the
strength of the bull.

The social signifacnce of the event is magnanimous. The race takes place usually
as part of an overall mela or an urs which is a grand gathering of thousands of
people. Children and elders wait all year for major melas like the sehwan mela
where people from different tribes and districts come into contact , meet their
friends, socialize with others, meet their political allies or foes and have
discussions, or sometimes they are found doing business. The tribe or city to which
the bull belongs feels extremely proud of their heritage, and a victorious bull
represents victory for the tribe as well as for the district. The owner of the winning
bull then has a gathering at his place of his friends and family to celebrate the
occasion with foods and music and dance.

The practice is a little different in Punjab ,with relevance to the race cart there are
no tyres on the cart in Punjab, the track itself is dug a little so that moving
through it gets difficult. Also the overall trend in melas in Punjab is different from
sindh. The Punjabi mela wil have arch throwing, shotput, and even motorcycle race
but these wont be found here in sindh. Also the mela in Punjab is more
commercialized.

INTERPRETATION
the sport itself still has its charm left, with the same overall gatherings, similar
traditions, similar symbolic significance and values. I have mentioned the
significance of the sport and its traditional values as mentioned by the interviewees
but I observed a change in the overall activities that were taking place and the pace
that they had achieved.

The sport itself has been recognized by different local governing bodies like the
Rawalpindi cdgk and the gujarkhan cdk , who host some of the sporting events and
melas and are responsible for the prize distribution. But most of the events are
hosted by elders in the area or senior politicians. For eg , the yearly mela in
pathwaar is organized by retd gen. qayyum , who is also the ex-chairman of
Pakistan steel mills. These prizes and awards have been introduced recently by the
local body govt just to promote the sport and reward the hard work of the racing
teams’.

The sport used to be a sport only until betting was properly introduced into the
sport. As of right now , betting is a part of the overall games, with professional
bookies(just like those at race courses) at every event and many people placing
bets with them. This was when the sport changed from a fun based activity to a
commercial activity/business. The old tradition of betting between families or in
groups with say friends still exists, and is enjoyed a lot.

Also, another aspect of the sport’s commercialization is the introduction of


celebrities and different artists performing at the events. These artists recently
targeted this new audience and now are making a buck out of the whole event.
Even professional dancers may be called at personal post-event gatherings. The
kinds of activities have also changed , become more 21st century like , activites
such as motorcycle riding, magic shows and tricks etc.

To sum it all up, I think that my fellow anthropologists at iba will appreciate my
topic because they are not very much aware of the sport. The love and passion
these rural people have for their animals and for the game shows that traditional
cultural values are still held high in these areas unlike our urban masses who I feel
are gradually forgetting their cultural values and traditions. So I come to the
purpose of my report which is to present the case of my people and to show this as
an example to our urabanites that we should stick to our own cultural values, that
we should not ignore or feel ashamed by them. Instead we should cherish them
and hold our heads high ,take pride in our traditions and protect our identity and
the identity of our forefathers.
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Mr.Jazib khan domki


Mir zaffarullah khan domki
Soomar sheikh
Pandh mohammad
Rafae zahid sheikh
Omar hayat
www.rawalpindi.com
www.flickr.com
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