Free Press Journal

Mallakhamb: The lost Indian sport


The mallakhamb lovers and its proponents have taken upon themselves urging the authorities to include the sport in Olympics, reports Manasi Y Mastakar

India is as diverse as it gets. Be it gods, religions, languages, cultures or even sports. One can find people of all generations immersed in some kind of physical or mental activity all over the country. Be it gilli-danda, kho-kho, kancha, teen-patti or even shataranj, Indians know how to kill time as well as to use it effectively. And we love our sports a lot; if boys are crazy about cricket, there’s association for kabaddi as well. But not all get commercial fame. Many organisations are doing their bit to bring the regional sports in national limelight, and one of those regional flours is mallakhamb. In the past several years, mallakhamb has been gaining popularity and making its presence felt in the sports scenario, thanks to the efforts of the Mallakhamb Federation of India.

In celebration of the 200-year-old sport, a three-day National Mallakhambh Championship has been held in Ujjain.

This championship saw a huge turnout of lovers of the sport hailing from over 20 states. Organised by the Madhya Pradesh Mallakhamb State Association on behalf of the Mallakhamb Federation of India, Ujjain Municipal Corporation, Madhav Seva Nyas (which is also the venue for the event) and sports and youth welfare department are also contributing in successful hosting of the championship.

Last held in 2014, this is the third time that the city of Ujjain is playing host to the championship. Comprising eight categories, the championship is divided into four age groups separately for male and female Mallakhambh enthusiasts. Several national champions like G Adityan from Tamil Nadu, and Krishna Kale and Aditi Karambelkar (a student of Mallakhambh expert Uday Deshpande) from Maharashtra are participating in the championship.

The Mallakhamb Federation of India is recognised by the Department of Sports, Govt Of India and the Indian Olympic Association. Ever since its inception in 1981, the Federation has been actively promoting the game across the country. And the efforts of the Federation are evident from the fact that the sport, which had its presence only in four states, has now spread its roots in more than 20 states. Though the sport originated from the soil of Maharashtra during the regime of Peshwa Bajirao II, Madhya Pradesh has been a foster parent of mallakhambh with several training centres, institutes and infrastructure sponsored and provided by the state government.

Though mallakhamb has been recognised as a national sport by the Indian government, the sport is yet not a part of Indian Olympic Association’s games list, in spite of the Association also acknowledging the national status of mallakhamb. The Federation is currently fighting for its inclusion in the Olympics.