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Punjab Rural Olympics 2013:
Qila Raipur

GURVINDER SINGH & MAHESH SHARMA

 

 

 

The scintillating golden trophy depicting the man driving and spurring the bullock cart means a lot more to the young and the old of the villages of rural Punjab than perhaps the Olympics medal.

The chariot races in the ancient Olympic games of Greece might be the precursor to the modern-day Olympics, but the rural chariot races in the middle of fields of Qila Raipur decades ago have paved the way for bullock cart competitions that are an integral part of the rural games held here every year.

Rather than changing with times, the hallmark of the games has been that they maintain their rustic character and bring into their fold more and more spectators and get them to change their opinion towards the “rural” games.

Races featuring horses, bullocks, mules and dogs, the daredevilry of the young and the old, the gallantry and flamboyance of grey-bearded men and the young,  teenage children have drawn international attention.

“The beauty of these games is that the baton has been passed on for generations. It now showcases a great culture of rural sports and involves everyone,” says Jagbir Singh.

The animal races, tug of war, kabbaddi, wrestling, tractor race and acrobatics and feats of strength continue to maintain the rural flavour.

“We are also including modern games such as hockey and cycling to engage the youth,” says Sukhvir Singh Grewal, chief organiser of the games.

A BIG DRAW

The games were no different this year, as more than 40 events of traditional and modern games were organised during the four-day sporting extravaganza.

Besides attracting spectators from Punjab and neighbouring states, the event drew a large number of foreign nationals.

“We came to see the rural games, especially the bullock-cart races,” says Michael Mueller from Germany. “I was impressed with the daring horsemanship of the people,” says Angus Colqehoum from Scotland.

Cultural programmes showcasing the rural and folk culture of Punjab, including folk dances, the balladeers known as “dhaadi jathas”, etc, make this a unique spectacle.

CLAMOUR GROWS FOR NATIONAL FESTIVAL STATUS

Disappointed at the lack of concern shown by successive governments towards restoring the “national festival status” to the Qila Raipur Sports Festival, sports enthusiasts have urged political leaders of the region to use their resources to get back the status.

Sports lovers say local politicians should ensure that the event appears on the calendar of national festivals besides getting grants for the event.

Gur Sandeep Singh, President of the Sports Association that runs the games, says the Central Government in New Delhi has assured them of doing the needful soon. But sportspersons, led by Baljit Singh Taggar, say the administration has failed to do enough despite the decision of the Union Ministry of Tourism to put the event on list of national festivals 12 years ago.

AWARDS AWAITED

Area residents allege that the organisers have failed to claim facilities and privileges for the event due to politicisation of the festival. The Punjab Government had announced five awards of Rs 100,000 each for outstanding performers of the Rural Olympics seven years ago. It had proclaimed that the prize would be awarded to each of: the best bullock-cart racer, best all-round rural sportsperson, best kabbaddi team, best wrestler and the best team in loading-unloading of tractor-trailers.

But the awards have yet to materialise.

 

[Courtesy: Tribune. Edited for sikhchic.com]

February 4, 2013

Conversation about this article

1: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom ), February 04, 2013, 6:37 AM.

These photos say it all! Sports is miles better than alcohol, tobacco, drugs ... and unearned wealth.

2: Sarjit Kaur (Bethel Park, PA, USA), February 05, 2013, 2:55 PM.

I agree 100% with Baldev Singh ji! :)

3: Raam Singh (London, United Kingdom), February 06, 2013, 10:34 AM.

Great article! Sporting culture should be fully supported and encouraged - without question! Especially in a Punjab where drug- and alcohol-abuse are rife. These traditional games (and even these photographs) where both young and old participate, are remnant of the Punjab I'm told about my grandparents ... Also, check out this link for an insightful perspective on the games and Punjab's sporting legacy: www.gt1588.com/punjabs-rural-olympics/

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Qila Raipur"









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