It was a rainy day, when I started form Delhi. I thought the dangal might be canceled because of the weather, but I decided to go and see what happened. I was on my way to Ullawas Village in Gurgaon, Haryana to see the annual dangal held in honor of a great social worker of the village, the late Sh. Dharmveer Ambawata.
It was also a celebration of India’s Independence Day. Kartik Dhar, a very good friend of mine, and a very good photographer, came along too.
The wrestling area was in a big field – with the village on one side and new high-rise buildings towering along the road on the other side. The old and the new living side by side, that’s Gurgaon. The wrestling pit itself was huge -- big enough for a dozen pairs of wrestlers to compete at the same time.
Satbir Ambawata ji, the brother of Sh. Dharmveer Ambawata, has been organizing the dangal since 2000. He gave a warm welcome to all the wrestlers, coaches, gurus and everyone else who came out for the occasion.
Rajbeer Pahalwan who was in charge of dangal preparations and also a brother of Sri Satbir Ambawata, told me that the village elders -- mainly, Jaibeer Sarpanch, Azad Sarpanch, Seer Singh Nambardar, Dharma Jaidev Jaggi Gujar, Brahm Singh Neta, Barat Singh Thapli and Anni Pahalwan all helped to make the dangal a success.
The junior wrestlers started off the competition. The weather wasn’t cooperating, though. It would drizzle off and on and then suddenly burst into a downpour.
Then came the senior wrestlers. So many wrestlers came to compete. Some of them were national or international champions. With all this talent, the organizers tried their best to give everyone a chance to wrestle.
One of the highlights was a match between Rajesh Bhati of Guru Hanuman Akhara and Jitender from Sohna. Both are world-class wrestlers so the match was intense. Covered in mud and sweat, the two wrestlers battled each other for more than half and hour. They were bleeding from scratches, but that didn’t seem to bother them. Finally, the bout ended in a draw and the crowd cheered for both of these outstanding athletes.
The main event was a bout between Varun of Railway Akhara and Sonu of Mandhoti village. The S.H.O. of Badshahpur Police station in Gurgaon inaugurated the bout. He also donated 21000/- in prize money – which was a great and generous thing to do. It’s always good to see important people in the community support kushti.
Varun Pahalwan won a medal in freestyle wrestling in Australia recently, so he is really at the top of his game. Sonu is also a very good wrestler. His village, Mandhoti in Haryana is famous for its wrestlers and boasts many hind kesari and national champions. It was a great bout. At one point, Sonu gained control and had Varun almost pinned, but Varun countered and escaped. The match went on for quite as while as each man was able to defend against his opponent’s attacks. Sonu went for a takedown, barreling into Varun with all his might, but they were close to the edge of the pit at that point and the wrestlers went flying into the crowd. One cameraman was so startled that he said he would never come to photograph a dangal again. But I told him, not to worry; he just needs to be careful.
The bout finally ended in a draw and that brought the dangal to a close. We packed up our things and headed back to Delhi.