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Monday, February 11, 2013

Kila Raipur Sports Festival 2013 ~ the rural Olympics

India lives in villages ! and amongst the tiny dots of thousands of villages – Kila Raipur is one geographically;  but this village in Punjab is famous for the sports festival it hosts every year; one which would  demonstrate the physical strength and valor of the Punjabi men and women.

If you think of Sports, the ultimate competition could be the Olympics.  There was so much of fanfare and competition in the 2012 Summer Olympics, officially the Games of the XXX Olympiad and commonly known as London 2012, which took place in London, United Kingdom, from 27 July to 12 August 2012. Around 10,800 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) took part, surpassing the 1948 Summer Olympics in London and the 2002.

Kila Raipur Sports Festival, is  popularly known as the Rural Olympics, and is held annually in Kila Raipur (near Ludhiana), in Punjab, India. It may not be any replica of events of Olympics but  includes cart-race, rope pulling and more. In February each year, Ludhiana becomes the destination for hundreds of sports enthusiasts, including foreigners. They come to Kila Raipur to see the special breed of bullocks, camels, dogs, mules and other animals competing in competitive events. The most prestigious winners have attended.

Villages are the backbones of the Nation and it was here that civilization started with first habitation; alongside developed rural sports too.  Those who toiled in the fields naturally were physically powerful and they had to strengthen their defences against the  onslaughts of a common foe and dangerous animals.  This process perhaps would have given birth to sports like wrestling, running, jumping, weightlifting and such performing arts as of measuring strength by holding wrists, twisting hands.

With the heritage and tradition of Punjab, the pre-eminence of developing physique and toughening the minds nourished the wrestling; more wrestlers have hailed from the fields of Punjab and have brought laurels for the Nation in such sports.  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.

It is started that now 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.  Punjab besides wrestling is known for Hockey, kabbadi, volleyball and more games. 

Now in the Extreme Sports, getting run over by a tractor, carrying a bicycle in  teeth and standing on top of two horses as they gallop down a field  are all part of the India’s rural Olympics, taking the sports to newer heights and newer definitions.  Formally known as the Kila Raipur Sports Festival, the event takes place every year and attracts more than 4,000 men and women.  The festival  is reported to have first begun in 1933 and is a celebration of rural life in India’s farming belt.

Though not covered in great detail by Indian Press, there are special reports in Daily Mail, WSJ, Yahoo, MSN  and other foreign news channels. Here are couple of photos of the events as they appeared in foreign press

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Photo courtesy : and wallstreetjournal

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