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Oct 17, 2009

Restoration of garadis enthuses wrestlers

By Shankar Bennur 
The Hindu
Two of Mysore’s oldest garadis are being restored and will be ready in a few days

LIFELINE: A file picture of one of the dilapidated ‘garadis’ in Mysore.
MYSORE: The rustic wrestlers of Mysore are giving a beaming and confident smile. Their long-cherished wish of seeing “garadis” (wrestling gymnasiums) restored for posterity is being fulfilled with the launch of restoration of the city’s two oldest garadis.
The restoration of Srinivasannana Garadi at Benki Nawab Road, which is said to be 175 years old, and Hattujanara Garadi at Ittigegud, which is believed to have completed 150 years, is under way.
The new-look garadis would be opened soon to facilitate training for the Dasara events.
This city once boasted 250 garadis. Today they are languishing and some are on the throes of closure.
On seeing the dilapidated condition of these garadis, the Dasara Committee on Wrestling headed by the Superintendent of Police Rama Subba, drew up an action plan to revive these gymnasiums to keep the wrestling tradition alive.
Although “Nada Kusti” bouts, the traditional form of wrestling that was patronised diligently during the reign of the Mysore rulers, are organised as part of Dasara festivities, the authorities, responding to the grievances of “pehalwans” in recent years, are making efforts to revive the sport and the infrastructure that supports the ancient sport.
As promised last year, the renovation of two garadis was launched recently and the work is going on at a brisk pace. “The work will get over in a few days. Wrestlers can practise for Dasara. We raised funds through sponsors,” said Mr. Rama Subba.
He told The Hindu that Rs. 1.5 lakh was being spent on the renovation and two garadis would be renovated every year to keep the wrestling tradition intact.
“We have identified about 10 garadis that need immediate restoration. We shall request industrialists, business houses and philanthropists to help revive the tradition,” he said.
He said the restoration of garadis would be taken up in phases based on the availability of funds. “I am happy that a sincere attempt is being made to revive the sporting tradition and restore garadis,” said pehalwan Paramesh.
Nada Kusti bouts were confined to Mysore Dasara as they were organised once in a year during the festivities. This demoralised the budding wrestlers who demanded more bouts to revive the tradition.
The rusticity of Nada Kusti had inspired many youngsters of the old Mysore region to embrace the tradition with great enthusiasm. But, in the absence of patronage, the tradition was on the wane.
To overcome this, the committee introduced bouts every month from February to encourage the sport. Bouts are featured once or twice a month.
The Dasara Sub-committee on Wrestling, which oversees wrestling matches at D. Devaraj Urs Multipurpose Stadium on Doddakere maidan during the festivities, brought truce between wrestling associations and launched Nada Kusti round the year.
Nada Kusti was popularised by the royal family of Mysore and was a favourite sport among the people. Besides Nada Kusti, the people also get a chance to witness another form of wrestling, Vajra Musthi, which is organised on the palace premises.
Meanwhile, wrestling groups have suggested establishing a permanent fund so that the efforts to revive the wrestling tradition did not suffer because of scarcity of funds.
“The permanent fund should help even the ailing wrestlers,” the wrestlers said.

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