Free Press Journal

Lost regional sports that every Indian should know about

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It’s only now that Mallakhamba has gained national importance, but there are numerous other regional sports which too should come to limelight. Sonali Pimputkar lists a few local flavours state-wise

Kalaripayattu – Kerala

The origin of Kalaripayattu dates back to Sangam literature era between 300 BC and 300 AD in Southern India. The word ‘Kalari’ means battlefield or combat arena. It is said to be world’s oldest martial arts and the mother of the martial arts in the world. Indian ancient monks who travelled to China to spread Buddhism taught the sport to the Chinese people. The sport exists in foreign countries too and has its federations in over 32 countries. When the number hits 40, the sport can apply for participation in Olympics. Kalaripayattu has also been gained its share in several Bollywood movies including Asoka and Baaghi.


State recognised: Yes

Kushti –Punjab & HaryanaW_end_19Feb_Pg8_lead kushti

The origin of the Indian wrestling dates back to 5th century BC when Kuhsti was popularly known as ‘Malla Yuddha’ meaning ‘wrestling combat’. In ancient time participants from different provinces used to represent their kings in the sport. Modern kushti is a result of blend of the original Malla Yuddha and Persian wrestling. Over the years, the age-old tradition of the sport has evolved replacing mud pits with mats. The traditional sport still has a strong connect in some regions of Punjab and Haryana.

State recognised: Yes

Atya Patya – MaharashtraW_end_19Feb_Pg8_lead Atya Patya

Also referred as a ‘game of feints’, Atya Patya is a traditional Indian sport mainly practised in Maharashtra. The game comprises of four innings each comprising of 7 minutes and ends with an interval of five minutes. Two teams with nine members each are awarded a point after crossing a trench while the defending team tries to block them. The winning team is decided taking in consideration the best scores of three games. The national governed body ‘Atya Patya Federation of India’ was formed in 1982. The first south Asian Atya Patya championship held in Bhutan in 2013 was won by India.

State recognised: Yes

Yubi Lakpi – ManipurW_end_19Feb_Pg8_lead Yubi lakpi

The name literally means ‘coconut snatching’, is a traditional game played in Manipur with notable similarities to Rugby. Unlike other sports, Yubi Lakpi is not a team but an individual one. Players massage their bodies with mustard oil while the coconut (used as a ball) is soaked in oil and placed before the chief guest, also referred as the ‘king’. The ultimate aim of the game is to pass the goal line with the coconut surviving all the attacks and present it to the king. In olden days, kings would organise such games to watch the skills and talents of the youths.

State recognised: Yes

Camel Racing – PushkarW_end_19Feb_Pg8_lead Camel racing

The annual five-day camel fair called the Pushkar Fair or ‘Pushkar ka Mela’, is one of the world’s largest camel carnival. The festival depicts the importance of camel in dessert life and tradition of the place by organizing various camel sports including camel race and camel polo. Attracting over 50,000 camels and 2,00,000 visitors, the festival is a hotspot where farmers meet to buy and sell their camels and horses. Over the years the festival has become an important tourist attraction.

“The race is conducted between two teams –local and tourists. Two-days prior to the festival we brief the participants about the rules and regulations of the game. The main aim of the festival is to promote the culture of Rajasthan. Every year the number of participants goes on increasing,” says Sukhdev Singh Rathore, Hospitality expert and member of Tourism Development Committee, who is associated with the festival since 18 years. “Talking of animal safety we have a team of veterinary doctors and also police and other security personnel,” adds Sukhdev.

State recognised: Yes

Kambala – KarnatakaW_end_19Feb_Pg8_lead kambala

Kambala is an annual buffalo race held in coastal areas of Karnataka with an aim to entertain rural population. The path used in the sport is a marshy field wherein race between two-pairs of buffaloes are held. The winning pair is awarded with coconuts and bananas and sometimes even with cash prize or gold/silver coins. The traditional form of the game was non-competitive where buffalo pairs were made to run one after another as a part of thanksgiving to the gods and to gain animals’ good health. In 2014, taking into consideration animal welfare the Supreme Court has imposed a ban on the sport. Several requests have been made by the citizens to remove the ban. Recently, the Karnataka Government passed an amendment bill in the state assembly to legalise Kambala.

State recognised: In process

Jallikattu – Tamil NaduW_end_19Feb_Pg8_lead Jallikattu

The bull-taming sport is practised in Tamil Nadu as part of Pongal harvest festival. Also known as Eruthazhuvuthal or Manju Virattu the sport dates back to the ancient times when the aim of the festival was to demonstrate the bravery and physical strength of men. Where men used to fight with bulls and impress women who would then choose them as their life partner. Over the years the sport has got a violent twist with animal cruelty like providing them with alcohol or beating to make them aggressive. Taking animal welfare in to consideration, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) started a protest and in 2010 Supreme Court gave a nod to practice the sport under certain rules and regulations but it was in 2011 Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) issued a notice against using animals in the sport. There were several efforts made including protest at Marina beach to lift the ban but of no use.

 State recognised: ban by Supreme Court

Insuknawr – MizoramW_end_19Feb_Pg8_lead insuknawr

The rod-pushing game originated with an aim to examine complete strength and stamina. The sport is played in an open ground having a diameter of 16 to 18 ft using 8 ft long rounded wooden rod. The focus of the participants is to eliminate the opponent out of the circle within three to five rounds. The game is categorised according to weight division –below 50 kg, 51-58 kg, 59-66 kg, 67-74 kg and above 75 kg.

State recognised: Yes

Dhopkhel – Assam

The traditional ball game played during the spring festival between two eleven-member team in an open field having a dimension of 125 m x 80 m. Matches of the sport were organised to mark the New Year Festival of Bihu. The players throw the ball at the competitors to eliminate them out of the game, while they try to get hold of the ball and dodge other players. Though once upon a time the game was widely played today efforts are made to revive it.

State recognised: No