By Roop Upadhyay, Hindustan Times
Traditional wrestling or Kushti is an important and unique feature of the local traditional fairs orgainsed across the state including Shivratri fair, Minjar fair of Chamba, Bilaspur Nalwari mela. All mela committee organise the wrestling event and wrestlers from all over the state and neighbouring states participate in the event.
Kushti is an ancient form of warrior ship where training is imparted in an Akhara, which is more like a temple-gymnasium dedicated to the Hindu deity, lord Hanumaan.
Each Akhara has a guru or the master, who guides the wrestlers. The match is played in a square, dark red clay ground and wrestlers follow a set of rules and a more elaborate way of life including diet, spirituality and ethics.
“Traditional Indian wrestling isn't just a sport, it is an ancient subculture where wrestlers live and train together and follow certain rules. The focus is on living a pure life, building strength and improving their wrestling skills,” said Suresh Pahalwan, a resident of Pathankot, Punjab, who participate in these fairs with his students.
He added that he is participating in Kushti from past 20 years and few of his students have either won the events or remained at the top rank throughout North India and various championships at state and national level.
“In the modern time, gyms are preferred over Akharas and a sculpted body is preferred over skilled fingers of a traditional wrestler. The trend of joining Akharas has diminished over years, but few masters are running their own Akhara and such events encourage the traditional art in its traditional spirit” he said.
Recently, Kushti of Sundernagar Nalwari mela was won by Pradeep of Kaithal defeating Somvir of Rohtak, Haryana. The event organizers presented cash award and 'Gurj' (a symbol of highest respect in Kushti in shape of gold plated stick).