While the rest of India was busy celebrating the birthday of lord Krishna, the people of Munirka Village were busy preparing for a great wrestling competition as they have done for as long as anyone can remember.
I knew this dangal well because I used to come to wrestle here too, when I was young. I asked an old-timer wrestler if anything had changed and he said no, wrestlers still come from far and wide to compete here and everyone knows that it will happen each year.
The organizing committee included: Sibal Pahalwan, Dilbagh Pahalwan, Chattar Singh Pahalwan, Raghbir Singh Pahalwan, Prata Singh, Param Singh, Kharag Singh, Dilbagh Pahalwan, Madan Tokas and Surender Tokas. The entire village contributed prize money and paid for all the necessary equipment like tents, ropes, water, a loud speaker and microphones.
As the event witnessed large number of wrestlers the prized were also divided into many categories, like 50/-, 100/-, 200/-, 300/-, 500/- 1100/-, 2100/-, 3100/-, 5100/- , 11000/- and the first prized was for 21000/-.
The best thing about the dangal was that there was a consolation prize for the defeated wrestlers. I thought this was a great idea because some of the wrestlers traveled a long way to wrestle here and they should at least get some money to pay for their travel expenses.
Munirka has a long tradition of wrestling and some of the most famous local wrestlers were: Munshi Pahalwan, Maharaj Singh, Mirmu Pahalwan, Om Pahalwan, Sibbu Pahalwan and Suraj Bhan.
One of the event organizers and referees for the dangal, Dilbagh Pahalwan, is a coach in the P&T department and NIOS wrestling coach. He is a very accomplished wrestler winning Silver Medals in 1975 and 1977 at the National Games. He told me that one wrestler of the village held the P&T championship from 1951 -1968 and received an appreciation letter from the then-president of India Shankar Dayal Sharma.
Dilbagh says it’s very important to preserve traditional Indian wrestling because even the wrestlers who go on to compete at the Olympics get their start at akharas. If we want to excel at the sport internationally, we must continue to promote our rich culture of Indian wrestling.
The main attraction of the dangal apart from wrestling was the film star KRK, also known as Kamaal Khan of Big Boss fame. He’s also a campaigner against corruption in politics and people love him for that also. I am also a fan of his as well as a friend. He loves wrestling and so I asked him to come along.
All the spectators, gurus and wrestlers were so excited when they heard KRK would be there. They wanted to do their best so he would enjoy the dangal. Children swarmed around him trying to get an autograph or get their photo taken with him. He wasn’t able to stay long, but he did inaugurate a bout of Jeetu Pahalwan. And then some of the wrestlers gave him an escort out, so he wouldn’t be too mobbed by fans.