Hyderabad: At a time when the country is getting polarised on religious lines by Hindutva groups, sports can perhaps act as a bond to unite the masses. Mohd Abdul Subhan, a wrestler from the city, is organizing the first ever ‘Jai Bheem Jai Meem Kesari’ wrestling competition at Red Hills in the second week of June.
The title of the ‘kusthi’ (wrestling) battle is catching all eyes as the public is generally used to seeing Andhra Kesari, Hyderabad Kesari, Telangana Kesari and so on. Mohd Abdul Subhan, who is from the Khader Pahelwan Wrestling Club, said that the wrestling championship is being organized for the first time in the State with an aim of uniting people of different faith.
“You know how the situation in the country is. People are being separated on the basis of food, clothes, language, colour and all things, so I thought of naming the championship as ‘Jai Bheem Jai Meem’ to unite all,” said the Hyderabad based wrestler.
The competition is to be held from June 8 to 12 at the Red Hills playground in Hyderabad. On the first day there will be weights – meaning the participating wrestlers will be giving body measurements and weight at the camp – and following days wrestling competitions.
Abdul Subhan is himself a wrestler and trains youngsters at his wrestling club in Hyderabad. “As sport there is a lot of demand from the younger generation. But many enroll and drop out due to the tough routine exercises and discipline,” he said.
The ancient Indian style of wrestling, or ‘kushti’, is taught and practiced at the wrestling schools known as Akhadas to children aged between 10 and 16 years.
Hyderabad has many such wrestling schools at Dhoolpet, Begum Bazaar, Barkas and a few other parts of the Old City. Those practicing wrestling are called the Pahelwans and they come from various backgrounds. There are a set of rules to adhere to, a premium on desi food and abstinence from sex or sensuous thoughts.
“Health-conscious educated youth are keen to learn and practice the sport. Fitness matters most to them. Excitement of participating in the sport and winning the wrestling championship is always a matter of pride,” says Khalid Bamas, of Bamas Akhada at Barkas in Old City of Hyderabad.
Traditional Akhadas – the one with red mud pits are many where the boys undergo rigorous fitness training. Customary methods like dand (similar to dips), baithak (squats) with hasil (iron ring) and rassa (rope) are some of the traditional exercises.
“The regimen is rigorous. The routine starts at 6 am in winter and an hour earlier in summer. Sportsmen spend about two-three hours learning and perfecting techniques every day. We consider wrestling a sacred sport, so no one enters the practice arena without taking a bath,” says Mr Khalid.
Local wrestlers participate in championships in Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra round the year. Like many traditions in the rapidly modernising country, kushti or wrestling too faces the threat of getting left behind. Though it remains popular for now, not many new Akhadas are opening. The numbers are dwindling fast.
Sincere efforts of the government will help it survive, wrestlers point out.