By Ruma Kat
The state of Punjab is well-known for its warm nature and hospitality but it is also famous for its old form of martial art called Kushti. If earlier there were wrestlers (experts in kushti) like Gama Pehlwan, Sultani Wala, Sikander and Ram Krishan, in recent times there have been some familiar names like Dara Singh and Kartar Singh who have brought laurels to the state.
And even now this form of wrestling is very much alive and kicking in the akharas (wrestling arenas) of the villages in this area. And every effort is made to keep this legacy going.
The akhara here has been named after Kartar Singh, who was a two-time Asian Games gold-medallist from Sursingh village of this area. Now coach Balbir Singh trains about 35 to 40 wrestlers at this venue.
Whereas, earlier wrestlers practiced the traditional form on mud, today many akharas have been provided with the mats by the Government.
Kartar Singh, Chairman Wrestling Federation of India says, “We practiced on mud because we did not have mats at that time. But today it is beneficial for wrestlers to have this facility because after all the international tournaments are held on mats.”
Another wrestler Gursewak Singh (23) who has been practicing here for the last 12 years says, “Kartar ji has provided us with these mats and a pump has also been installed here for water. Practicing here is fun and in summers more than 60 wrestlers come here. We take part in wrestling competitions at village festivals and want to become the best wrestler of our village. Recently, I got a cash prize of Rs. 40,000 for being named the best wrestler at a village wrestling tournament.”
The state govt is also doing its bit to promote kushti in these parts. They give 15 wrestlers a daily diet of Rs 60 per day. Wrestlers come here from Moga and Amritsar and practice for 3-4 hours everyday. The villagers here have not forgotten their old form of martial art. The legacy of kushti here is very much alive.