Water Buffalo Racing in Bali

Rice Paddy

Water Buffalo Racing

Think water buffalo and the image that probably springs to mind is of a large, sedentary animal up to its waist in a paddy field munching merrily away. Find yourself at a makepung water buffalo racing tournament in the Jembrana province of Bali, however, and you might just want to reconsider as two half ton adults connected to a flimsy chariot come thundering past at high speed.

Balinese Ben Hurs

The sport evolved with farmers racing their buffalos in the breaks between rice harvests, and the official season now runs from July to October. The tournaments are an opportunity for communities to celebrate, with musicians playing and jockeys decorating their chariots and the horns of their trusty steeds before taking part in one-on-one races in a knockout competition. The most prestigious contest of all is the Governor's Cup where some 300 amateur Ben Hurs arrive with their buffalos and compete over a series of days before huge crowds.