(Last Updated on : 20/09/2013)
History of wrestling in India
is amongst the most ancient games in the country and the Hindu
epics of Mahabharata
contain numerous references about it. Also referred to as Malla-Yudhha, wrestling in India is believed to have been practised even prior to the advent of the Aryans in India.
Characters like Jarasandha
were strong wrestlers who were mentioned in the Mahabharata. Hanuman was a powerful wrestler, as per the account of the epic of Ramayana. The Malla Purana also speaks about some Gujarati Brahmin
wrestlers who were known as Jyesthimallas. The kings and emperors of ancient India used to patronise wrestlers regularly and ensured that they receive a wholesome and nutritious diet which comprised milk
, sugar and delicious sweets. The wrestlers used to maintain their health and strength by performing physical exercises on a regular basis.
During the British Raj in India, wrestling was encouraged and wrestlers were inducted into the military by the British officials. The Indian soldiers and the British armies took a fancy to the activity of wrestling to a great extent. Wrestling, therefore, continued thriving as a popular game in the nation and India was ranked as one amongst the top 10 countries in the field of wrestling. This scenario remained unchanged till the 1960s. During 1967, the World Wrestling Championship was arranged by India in New Delhi
. Wrestlers are locally referred to as Pehlwan and are trained in the disciplines of Jutusu and Judo
. Indian wrestlers were known to participate in several wrestling competitions and performed the game in a deep stone courtyard. Today, however, wrestling is being done on wrestling mats and rings.