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I miss the buzz: Meet Kila Raipur’s only bullock cart jockey

The younger generations have failed to develop an interest in bullock cart racing and no other villager had participated in it up to the year 2014, when it was banned by the SC.

punjab Updated: Feb 04, 2018 10:21 IST
Amarpal Singh
Amarpal Singh
Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
Punjab,Kila Raipur games,bullock cart racing
The lone bullock cart jockey, Santokh Singh, with his bull at his house in Kila Raipur.(Gurpreet Singh/HT)

Kila Raipur village in Ludhiana district, which was famed for its bullock-cart racing once upon a time, is now left with just one senior bullock cart jockey. Meet 50-year-old farmer Santokh Singh, the only remaining jockey out of four men who used to take part in the Kila Raipur Games 15 years ago.

“The bullock­ cart races were the life of Kila Railpur Games. We were crazy about the games, and would even miss lunch to be there.”

The younger generations have failed to develop an interest in bullock cart racing and no other villager had participated in bullock cart racing up to the year 2014 (when a ban was imposed by Supreme Court on exhibition or training of bulls as performing animals).

Of other people who participated in the races, Santokh said one of the jockeys had died and other two have gone abroad.

He had been in his 30s when he developed a back problem and was forced to leave the game. “The other three continued for a few years more but they also left due to the age factor,” he says.

Charanjit Singh, 70, father of Santokh, said the Kila Raipur Games were started by Sant Mani Singh in 1933. “I have been witnessing the games since my childhood. When Santokh was a child he wanted to participate in the bullock cart race and when he turned 25 he brought a bull from Rajasthan. After that he won a motorcycle when he participated in the race for the first time,” he recalled.

Today, caring for bulls is an expensive proposition and young people have just lost interest in the game, Santokh added.

Bulls gone off the field

Since the 2014 SC ban, some of the bull owners sold their bulls while others set the animals to plough the fields.

Santokh said he sold his bull after he stopped racing carts around 15 years back. The animal he owns now ploughs his fields. His friends from other villages who participated in the races have also sold their animals or are using them for work in their fields.

Village misses the buzz

“The bullock cart races were the life of Kila Railpur Games, we used to spend the whole day at the games venue. We were crazy about the games, and would even miss lunch,” said Balwinder Singh, 65, a farmer from Kila Raipur.

The village would be buzzing with excitement before the event. All the participants would bring their bulls to practice. “Our relatives from different villages, cities would come to stay for months for the games,” Charanjit added.

Today, the cart races are missed and the villagers feel the games have lost their charm. “For all the three days of the event, bull events used to take place. We used to go there before 10 am as after 10 we didn’t get the seats and now the chairs remain empty,” said Bhupinder Kaur (66), a home maker living in Kila Raipur.

First Published: Feb 04, 2018 10:20 IST