Heavy rains have punished the Indian subcontinent this season. Flooding has been widespread in India, and devastating in Pakistan and neighboring countries. Delhi has been no exception. It's been pouring every day, washing away the hard work of people organizing outdoor events. But whenever there is a dry spell, the clear sky, green trees, grass and flowers look fresh and stunning.
Most of the dangals I attended this season were heavily affected by the raingods. The dangals at Shahbad, Mathura, Faridabad and Surajkund all were stopped abruptly by sudden lashes of rain.
On 10th September 2010, a dangal was organized at Village Fathe Pur Beri, on the outskirts of Delhi. The dangal is organized every year by the village. The residents here love staging the dangal and have announced this season’s highest prizes. Wrestlers from all over Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and other states came to compete.
When I reached the village, the competition had already begun and senior wrestlers’ bouts were taking place.
The dangal has been held for decades, honoring Saint Baba Dhanna Tanwar JI.
The Organising Committee was made up of Chairman Rajinder ji, Guru Lekhraj ji, Village Head, and the village committee of Fatehpur Beri.
Among the special guests at the dangal were:
- Member of Parliament (Outer Delhi) Ramesh Kumar JI
- Surinder Nath ji, Priest of the famous Kalkaji Temple New Delhi
- Parvesh Verma (Mahamantri, DPCC)
- Hind Kesari Jaiprakash Pahlwan
- Member of Legislative assembly (MLA) Bijwasan
- Councilor Rampal Yadav
Among the organisers and volunteers were:
- Ashok Tanwar
And the reefrees were:
- Lala Pahlwan
- Jagat Pahlwan
First prize was Rs. 51000/-. The organizing committee was worried that it might start raining or the sun would set before everything had been completed so after a hurried discussion, they decided to have 4 big matches for prizes of Rs. 21000.
The event drew a number of great wrestlers including, Vikram, Goti, Dheeraj, Jeetu, Karan, Pradhan, Phire, Birju, Rahul gurjar and Varun. Wrestlers Phire and Varun were honored by the villagers with a gift of 5 kilograms of ghee (clarified butter).
Many great wrestling bouts took place at the dangal. In one match, a wrestler pinned his opponent using the Dhak Technique to take his prize. It reminded me of my own wrestling, when I was so obsessed with technique that I used to practice in my dreams and use them in dangals. One of the wrestlers at the dangal, Jeetu Pahlwan, is a third-generation wrestler and a gold medalist in his weight class. He is the grandson of a great wrestler, Guru Shyam Lal, the pride of Ghitorni.
Jeetu Pahlwan faced an opponent who outweighed him, and in my opinion, this was the the best match of the dangal.
Since there were many contestants for the first prizes, eight of the greatest present-time wrestler were paired each other, and 4 matches of 21000/- each were announced.
The four big matches were:
- Vikram vs. Dhiraj
- Goti vs. Vijay Pal
- Jeetu vs. Karan
- Phire vs. Pradhan
The sun had already started setting when the match list was announced, and when the the Goti vs. Vijay match began it was dark already. It was hard to see what was going on in the wrestling pit. Shadows of the wrestlers, who were equally worried of the dark were trying to finish their bouts. As it became harder for the fans to see the matches, people started closing in on the wrestling area. The situation soon escalated as the fans started pushing and shouting. The organizers tried to find someone to turn on some outdoor lights, but the person in charge of the lighting was nowhere to be seen.
As the crowd grew more agitated, one of the wrestler fell to the ground, but nobody could see who he was. Both wrestlers claimed they won and soon the event became chaotic.
Supporters of both the wrestlers were arguing. I was worried it might turn ugly so I ran for cover to save my camera. The crowd became uncontrollable so the organizers ended the event.
And so ended my chance to witness some of India’s greatest wrestlers competing in one place.