Tractors and power-tillers might have replaced the bull as the ubiquitous tiller of land in many parts of the country but the animal has taken its revenge on machines in another arena.
A pair of bulls was bought for a record price of Rs 25 lakh by a buyer in Guntur the other day. The buyer, who for tax purposes would not like to reveal his identity, is a keen bull race enthusiast and wants the animals to take part in a bull race later this year. Racing bulls and oxen is a favourite pastime in coastal Andhra and takes place in many towns and villages across the entire southern coastal belt stretching from Nellore to Krishna. Running an animal in the races is a prestige issue for the rich, including not only tobacco and chilli farmers, but also entrepreneurs and industrialists.
“Not all animals are suitable for races. Only animals of the famed Ongole breed, known for their muscular bodies, short necks, long limbs and immense power, are raced," said bull race enthusiast Srinivas.
The animals are put through rigorous training schedules to make them ready for the races, which take place around harvest time. The bulls are taken care of by a retinue of staff. They are given high energy foods containing pistas, badam, germinated gram and jaggery and given a bath at the end of the day.
“I spend a lakh of rupees every month maintaining my pair of bulls. But it’s all worth it in the end,” said an owner.
“It’s a hobby for me. My bulls have won races earlier. The bull is a great combination of majesty and power which no luxury car can match,” said another.