Mumbai Memoir 38- Mumbai chanting ‘Kabaddi…..Kabaddi’!
Throughout the week an average Mumbai’kar is seen catching up with the buzzing trains and sprinting through the noisy traffic. The physical exertion that results due to Mumbai’s busy lifestyle can make one breathless as the weekend approaches. Thus recreation is vital for Mumbai’kars to feel re-charged and thereby to take on with yet another week that lies ahead.
The elite usually have membership of various clubs that offer sports facilities which cater to their sports related needs. But in a city starved of open playgrounds, children and sport friendly youth hailing from the middle class, search for their personal spot to play their favourite sport. A parking arena on a Sunday converts into a small cricket ground for the people living in its vicinity. A trained cricketer myself, as a carefree teenager I too use to play cricket with my brother and his friends in a parking lot nearby.
Besides this, a building compound can be a 4-6 player’s mini football ground or a badminton court made of cement & concrete. Post lunch, at weekends or on public holidays, every available nook and corner of Mumbai’s empty lanes becomes alive and cacophonic, as sports enthusiast practice their favourite sport in their own small way.
A couple of weeks back, as I stood in my balcony, I was surprised to see teenagers playing a different sport, named Kabaddi, in my apartment compound. I was familiar with the sport, but I was astonished to see the boys pursuing it rather than playing the typical game of cricket or football, which I usually see them enjoying. Kabaddi is a team sport originated in rural India. Two teams comprising of 7 members each compete with each other. By taking a deep breath and then holding the air in his lungs, a member from one team enters the territory of the opponent’s team by uttering the words ‘Kabaddi, Kabaddi, Kabaddi’ through his mouth, until the breath is dropped. During his turn, when the player (referred as ‘raider’) is in the opposite team’s territory, to gain points, he has to physically touch maximum members and successfully return back to his team’s zone. It is not easy as it sounds, as the opponent’s team ‘stoppers’ (defenders) dodges his touch and then aim to trap him and push him on the ground till he drops his breath. If caught, with all his physical might the raider tries to escape the stopper’s territory by struggling to get out of their zone. If he manages to touch a dividing line then all who are holding him are declared out which adds to his team’s points. Apparently the game looks like an amalgamation of wrestling and rugby. The sport helps to build physical stamina and sharpens the brain-eye-limbs co-ordination as one pursues the game regularly. Mentally too the sport builds ‘will power’ as one has to raid the opponents territory in one breath. It builds values of confidence and courage in team members as the game demands the players to venture into opponent’s zone single-handedly and return back successfully.
Over the years the sport of Kabaddi is well known in urban India and also has gain international fame, but the sport’s origin is rooted in ancient South India. Indian mythology has several mentions of Lord Krishna playing the game as a child with his peers. Historical records from Buddhist literature mention about the game being played by Gautam Buddha in his youth. The game had lost its identity until modern times. During the British colonial rule it was in Maharashtra and Baroda region where the game’s rules were firmly set so that it could be pursued as a standardized sport everywhere. In the 1936 Berlin Olympics it was the first time Kabaddi was demonstrated by India sports authorities. Since 1990 Kabaddi has been included in the Asian Games and since 2004, Kabaddi World Cup has been held. India has won every World Cup title held till date! Recently UK Kabaddi Cup too has gained popularity in which teams from countries like India, England, USA, Pakistan, Canada etc. participate. English women along with the English men are enjoying the sport too. Here is a video showing their training: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vK2zFRZ6Th0
Until last year the masses in India enjoyed just Cricket in all its form. But after the formation of Kabaddi Premier League in 2014, Kabaddi gained immense popularity across all socio-economic sections of the Indian society. The Government, Media, Bolloywood, Corporate houses have come under one roof to present the sport to the common man by organizing matches across India and simultaneously telecasting it on prime time television. In its 2nd season, this year 8 teams participated namely, Jaipur Pink Panthers (Jaipur), U Mumba (Mumbai), Bengaluru Bulls (Bangaluru), Dabang Delhi (Delhi), Puneri Paltan (Pune), Telugu Titans (Hyderabad), Bengal Warriors (Kolkata) and Patna Pirates (Patna). This year’s final was held between U Mumba and Bengaluru Bulls. U Mumba, the Mumbai team became the winners of the KPL this season, making Mumbai and Mumbai’kars proud! http://www.starsports.com/kabaddi/competitionid=50000002/matchvideos/vod/video=pro-kabaddi-2015-final-mumba-road-glory/index.html
No wonder the teenagers in my building drew inspiration from the U Mumba team as they spent their recreation time playing Kabaddi over the weekend. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI-oThqIf5U
In times of social networking and connecting mostly through virtual world, its nice to see kids, teenagers and youthful minds tightly holding hands and playing the game to recharge themselves and thereby face the ‘breathless’ moments that Mumbai ‘raids’ on them on a weekly basis!
Photo credit: Free Internet Source.