A Bullock Cart Race in Tamil Nadu


South India

In the land of sun-worshippers, dawn is a blessed time. It is advisable to start early and take a break during the hottest hours of the day.

At 7 o’ clock in the morning, when the road offers views of the most unexpected, a bullock cart race appears out of the blue on the way to Chettinad. You can decide to be angry with the farmers, who take over the main arterial road and hinder daily traffic, or you can find pleasure in such a twist in the tale. Only men around, most of them sporting a moustache and wearing the traditional mundu, some wearing it folded in half. Four bright blue bullock carts pulled by the leanest, fastest oxen in the region, line up on the street nervously waiting for the “go”, shouted out by the man who seems to be the authority there. The finishing line is only a couple of hundred meters away; the race is about speed, not endurance.

Excitement is tangible in the air, man and beast are both gearing up to win. The race is over quickly, and the winners only seem to gain everyone’s admiration. After much congratulating and hugging, everyone slowly goes back to their lives, leaving behind a few pink and orange balloons while the street vendor, who had a good start to the day, pedals away his mobile shop.

Bullock Cart Chettinad 2
Bullock Cart Chettinad 6
Farmers at a bullock cart race, Tamil Nadu
Bullock Cart Chettinad 5

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