Picture of the Day: Donkey up!

Posted on July 27, 2006
Filed Under >Bilal Zuberi, Photo of the Day, Society, Sports
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By Bilal Zuberi

Karachiites know donkey cart races well.

I have myself witnessed them on many different streets in the city, from Sharah-e-Faisal to the main Univeristy Road. Amin Gulgee has even erected a monument to celebrate the city’s interesting pastime.

Donkey carts, with their single riders guiding them masterfully on Karachi streets and making noise from pebble-filled cans, may be deemed dangerous by some residents of the city, but they are a unique Karachi thing and demonstrate the vibrancy present in the local communities (in this case it is the coastal Makrani community who are typically given the credit for inventing donkey cart racing in Karachi).

Believe me, if you haven’t seen them before, you are missing a stirring sight. Even our President Musharraf has remarked in the past that “Donkey cart race reminded me of Ben Hur movie”.

The following news item in The News caught my attention. Its great to see some attention being given to our local sports and customs. (Nice headline too:

The city’s top donkey cart riders can once again be seen battling for the honour of the Chief Secretary Cup and a prize of Rs. 15,000 as they participate in a thrilling donkey cart race today… The organizers have also involved the local association of the donkey carts and it has sent its seasoned riders to make sure that there should be a tough contest. Standards have been defined for the racing carts and violating them will lead to disqualification from the race. Referees will closely check to see if any of the riders are found involved in pushing or hindering others. Such activity will lead to immediate disqualification. Only the city’s best kept donkey carts would be allowed to participate in the race. Those with worn out tyres or unfit carts would not be allowed. The participants of the race will be accompanied by police mobiles and traffic police motorcycles to clear any kind of obstructions. These mobiles will also carry referees and judges who will decide the winner of the contest.

The winner will get Rs. 15,000, runner up Rs. 10,000 and third position will get a reward of Rs. 5000, said one organizer who added that there will be about 50 to 60 participants in the race and each will get Rs500 for their participation. Governor Sindh Dr. Ishrat-ul-Ebad and the Chief Secretary Sindh Fazal-ur-Rehman will be the guests of honour and will also address the participants after distributing the award money.

Talking to The News, Zohaib Hasan, Advisor to Governor Sindh, said, “The President gave a directive to the Sindh Government to promote activities that represent the vibrancy of Sindh.� He added: “The government wants to re-establish the tradition of donkey cart race as people are preferring foreign sports over their own and this race is one of the identities of the province and city and the public should be involved in it.�

According to the organizers, the government is trying to make it a routine event of the city and the idea was to launch three or four small cups and then invite the winners to big contests like the one due today. After the Chief Secretary Cup, the participants will be invited to the Governor Cup which is one of the main events of the Sindh Sea Festival to be held in November.

Dr. Bilal Zuberi is Vice President of Product Development at GEO2 Technologies in Boston (MA), USA. See more at Bilal’s blog: BZNotes.

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22 responses to “Picture of the Day: Donkey up!”

  1. Owais Mughal says:

    photo of sprinting donkeys in a donkey cart race:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/zahidpix/529742829/

  2. Saad says:

    It is interesting that this is really a Karachi thing. I dont think it is anywhere else. NOt in Punjab or even Balochistan.
    It’s actually quite a routine in Southern Punjab (Multan and adjoining areas).

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