Kusthi Wrestlers of Delhi

13 images Created 8 Jan 2010

This Akhara Kushti is situated east of Kailash in the neighborhood of Gari in south New Delhi. In November 2009 I visited the Akhara. Here some twenty 'Pehalvans' or wrestlers train under the watchful eye of Guru Charan Singh.

The soil pit where the wrestling takes place is sacred to the Pehalvans and is mixed with oil and ghee. They will only walk barefoot in the pit and footwear is strictly taboo.

Traditional Indian wrestling is a way of life that finds its roots in ancient India. Practitioners live and train together following the Spartan rules of the Akhara, practicing vegetarianism, celibacy and a strict avoidance of smoking and alcohol, the wrestlers concentrate on building strength and perfecting technique.

Less and less boys are turning up to train, as the life of a wrestler is a hard one with very few succeeding in making a living from competition. But despite that, there are still many Akhara's left and some very committed people who are working hard to keep this ancient fighting art from dying.
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