These Donkey Cart Races In Lyari, Karachi Are More Exciting Than Formula 1, It's Insane

By Ather Ahmed | 28 Aug, 2017

Lyari is a place that is full of many surprises. The place may be notorious for gang wars it is far more than just that. Behind the smoke screen of crime and violence, you have art that is pure in every sense of the words. For instance, you have rappers coming out on the scene from Lyari. Then you have painters from there as well.

In addition to art, Lyari is also known to produce talent in terms of sport. Football and boxing, in particular, are quite popular in the area. However, did you know that there is one other sport, a rather unorthodox sport, Lyari is famous for? And unlike the above-mentioned two, it originated in Lyari itself.


Donkey Cart or ‘Gadha Gari‘ race is a local sport that has been happening for quite a while now


The rules are pretty self-explanatory; Whoever reaches the finish line first ( on his gadha gari of course) wins the race. Interestingly enough the finish line is usually at the hospital gates. It is to make sure that both the Jockey and donkeys are replenished as soon as the race ends. There is also that risk of the jockeys incurring injuries of sorts.

These races are held on a weekly basis. Contrary to popular belief, while the race may have had its origins in Lyari its not just restricted to it. They happen across the city depending on which route is available at the moment.


It’s not just a sport, it’s a colorful cultural movement of sorts with crazy celebrations and other shenanigans


I mean people have all sorts of names for their donkeys. Some of them are cute, some are badass and some are , well just weird. There are names like Bay-Akal (stupid), Chingari (spark), Nokia (yes a phone brand, can you believe that ?) and Hiran Ka Bacha ( Deer’s offspring, basically Bambi). The jockeys also dress up their donkeys in crazy ways at times.

The race itself is pretty festive with spectators in cars following the competitors and rooting for their favorite ones.  The cars are usually required to keep a certain level of distance from the competitors so that they don’t affect the outcome. However, at times the spectators do end up causing a ruckus in the race due to lack of proper monitoring.


The tradition of Gadha Gari races goes back to a few centuries,the specific time frame for when it started, though, isn’t clear


It was a tradition among the Makrani people. For those of you who might be unfamiliar with them, Makranis are an ethnic group that hails from the Makran coast. The Makranis trace their lineage to Africa. Because of their dark skin tone, they have been known to be discriminated against in Pakistan. The major idea behind these races was to determine the fastest donkey.

For the most part, the races are held without any control as such. To put it simply, they are held without an official body regulating them. The patrons of the sport had, on many occasions, expressed it to gain an official status much like other local sports such as Kabbadi and Kushti. Despite the lack of an official status, it is slowly being integrated in the mainstream, however. Just last year on 14th August a race was held under the supervision of Sindh Government with Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah distributing gifts among the winners.

This is actually a step in the right direction. Under a supervisory body concerns relating to injuries to both the jockeys and animals could be answered. Also these races wont end up being a public nuisance.


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