In villages which formed the first habitation of civilized man rural sports grew out of sheer necessity. The need for cultivating individual strength for labor on the fields, the interdependence within the community and need of defense, joint defense against onslaughts of a common foe and dangerous animals must have given birth to sports like wrestling, running, jumping, weightlifting and such performing arts as of measuring strength by holding wrists, twisting hands. Kabaddi which is another expression of the same spirit has become the mother of games in Punjab.
In order to toughen the frames and steel the minds of his followers Guru Hargobind ji had started the tradition of holding wrestling bouts within the precincts of Akal Takht Sahib and it is mostly because of the fillip that he gave and the seal of ethics that he put on them that sports become a proud facet of life in Punjab. On the common grounds of villages, in the fairs, during the festivals, at the hermitages of pirs, graves of preceptors, wrestling became a part of high recreation. Villages adopt and feed wrestlers and also give prizes to them as a matter of honor in Punjab today.
During the Hola Mohalla celebrations at Anandpur Sahib tent pegging competitions, archery, fencing and riding competitions, gymnastic and acrobatic displays which the Nihangs put up and the tournaments held at Diwali have a hoary history. To the Punjabis goes the distinction of organising rural games into tournaments.
Almost sixty years ago when the Grewal Sports Association had begun to hold competitions in rural sports at Village Quilla Raipur little would have anyone thought that this tournament will become a movement in Punjab.
Today in almost 7000 villages in Punjab in one decade or the other rural sports competitions are being held. Rural folk organise them. It is they who extend all hospitality to the competitors also. In fact these village sports have opened the floodgates of village development.
Before Independence in 1947 major importance was given only to Kabaddi and wrestling, after Independence the circle of rural sports also got widened. The rustic "Khido Khoondi" (literally a ball made out of cuttings of cloth and a stick twisted at the end like a flat hockey blade) was replaced by proper hockey and players from villages, having no facilities beyond uneven grounds to play began to dominate in the game. Twelve of our country's greatest hockey players have come out of a single village called SANSARPUR in Jalandhar District.
Recently not only revival of sports fairs has taken place in Punjab but their number has also increased tremendously. Twenty years ago, for instance, their number was limited to
Now sports meets are held almost in every significant village in Punjab.
Following the Kila Raipur Rural Sports meet the Kalgidhar Tournament of Kamalpur has also completed half-a-century. Dhudike's Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial Sports Fair has completed three decades. Gujarwal, Mullanpur, Sahnewal, Ghungali Rajputtana Hambla., Dhamto are flourishing. The -small sports meets of Lalto Kalan, Dhurkot, Rauni, Dyalpur, Rurka Kalan, Bhinder Kalan, Duare-ana are gaining stature day by day.
Three types of competitions are held during rural meets, Purely rural games : Kabaddi, Wrestling, Weight-lifting etc. Modern sports like athletics, hockey, football, volleyball, cycling, handball etc. Performing sports like acrobatics, twisting an iron-rod by placing it on Adam's apple, passing tractor over the rib-ease, cracking a big stone by placing it on the chest etc. Now another colour is also being added to these sports fairs. They have got intermixed with folk singing when sun sets after the days sports competitions the notes of music begin to emanate and singing continues, sometimes, late in the night. Music contest that was held between Karamjit Dhuri and Jagmohan Kaur at Kila Raipur is still fondly remembered. At the Gujarwal Meet the singing of Parminder Sandhu, Hans Raj Hans and Surinder Chhinda and at fairs of Majha region the notes o Toombi (one-stringed instrument) of Amarjit remain fixed in the minds of the people.
Villagers are not just fond of their own competitions they also like to size-up the skill and power of their animals like bulls, horses, dogs on the sports ground. Bullockcart racing has become a passion in Punjab. Because of a ban on hunting, hound-races are held in Punjab by dangling a bait of fake hare before them. At places cock-fights are also held and pigeon fights are contested. In some parts of Punjab people indulge in fighting a bull by barehands.
Rural Sports are a personification of the virility of Punjab.
The text and images in this section are from the Archives of the
Punjab Govt. , Plot No. 3, sector 38, Chandigarh. Telephone Nos : 0091-172-694889, 0091-172-694997
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