It was a hot and humid day as I started my journey from Delhi to Wazirabad in Haryana’s Gurgaon District. Every year since the Mughal era the village has held a dangal to celebrate Haryala Teez festival. Even the oldest people in the village couldn’t tell me exactly when the tradition had started. They just knew that every generation in memory had come to watch wrestlers compete here each year.
I arrived at Wazirabad around 1 p.m., but the things were running late, so I had a talk with a couple of the village elders and organizers of the dangal, Ramveer Singh and Mahinder Singh, while the wrestling pit was being prepared. They told me that many of the top wrestlers from all around the country come here to compete. The organizers had sent information and posters advertising the upcoming dangal to akharas in Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Rajsthan. Wazirabad is a fairly big village with a long history of wrestling. There are currently three akharas in the village where wrestlers live and train.
The dangal committee members included: Ashok Kumar, Vijay Prasad, Moolchand Yadav, Satish Pahalwan, Bhajan Lal Pahalwan, Mahender Singh, Mahaveer Singh, Satish Kumar, Bhagwan Singh, Vikram Pahalwan, Babu Giyasi Ram, Balram, Dharma Singh, Master Ram Chander, Chander Singh, Pyare Lal, Omprakash, and Makhdam.
The referees were: Satish Pahalwan, Siri Pahalwan, Bhjan Lal, Karmveer and Moolchand Yadav
The prizes were from 100/- to 11000/- Rs. And the wrestling matches were organized as follows:
20 or more bouts for Rs. 100/- prize, then
11000X1 (First Prize)
The wrestling started at about 3 p.m. The heat was intense, but no one seemed to mind -- the wrestlers were eager to do battle.
There was plenty of competition for younger wrestlers. They all had a great time and the referees awarded prizes of Rs. 100/- on the spot to the winners. It was good to see such enthusiasm among the kids. They are the future of the sport and one day some of them will grow into great wrestlers.
After the kids’ bouts finished, the junior wrestlers came out. These wrestlers were very strong and very skilled. The guru-jis only brought their best wrestlers to this dangal, so there was a lot of talent on display.
A wrestler named Roshan from Guru Hanuman Akhara defeated three opponents before challenging a bigger wrestler. The larger guy ended up beating him and the competition rules state that once a wrestler loses a match, he is out of the competition.
The senior wrestlers were up next and there were more great matches in this category. A wrestler named Mandeep from Guru Hanuman Akhara pinned his first opponent in a flash. Then he wrestled Jeetu Pahalwan of Guru Shyam Lal Akhara. They were both such equally skilled wrestlers that the bout ended in a draw.
One of the matches was for a 5100/- prize, but the spectators so enthralled that they donated more money, increasing the prize to 12600/-. I thought that was a nice way to reward the wrestlers for an exciting match that everyone enjoyed so much.
Night had fallen as the last few matches were taking place. It was too dark to see much, so I thanked the organizing committee and started my journey back to Delhi.