Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Akhara Kusti: a Struggle for Survival

Akhara Kusti: a Struggle for Survival
Akhara Kusti or Indian style wrestling was once a very popular sport in India dates back to the 16th century. But now it is struggling for its survival. It was once considered to be the pursuit of heroes, and at the peak of its popularity at the beginning of last century, successful fighters were hailed as living legends. Except for these spirited and passionate wrestlers who work by day in tedious jobs to make a living, this fascinating sport will be lost forever.
They and born and bred in Kolhapur, & now stay in the slums of Mumbai, are fed on a diet of robust Maratha food and trained diligently in small-time gymnasiums, then converted into champions.
Traditional Indian wrestling (Kusti). The wrestlers are known as "Malla". This wrestling match is played in the square dark red clay ground, which is known as "Akhada". The town of Kolhapur (400.000 inhabitants) is the main center of Kusti in India. But these are the wrestlers struggling in Mumbai. Many young boys come to practice "Kusti'. The young wrestlers train two times a day: in the early morning (4am-6.30am) and in the afternoon (4pm-6pm) six days a week. Most of these young boys are very poor and modest. They live, eat and sleep together in small room near to Akhada. They are on the strict diet and train diligently. They are concentrated only on Kusti.
It is a dying sport. Some akharas also offer lodging facilities to its members, hence also youngsters from the villagers who turn up in the cities take up the sport which besides giving them strength and stamina also facilitates a shelters for them. But largely those who take up the sport do for the passion for the game and take great pride in declaring themselves as wrestlers.

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