Etymology of Mallakhamb
The word Mallakhamb is derived from two words ‘Malla’ and ‘khamb’ which means ‘gymnast’ and ‘pole’ respectively. Literally meaning “gymnast pole”, the term refers to a traditional training implement used by gymnasts.
History of Mallakhamb
Mallakhamb was originated in the 12th century in the Maharashtra state of India. Besides Maharashtra, this traditional sport was also practiced in ancient Hyderabad. At the outset, Mallakhamb was not that famous, it gained popularity in 18th century when it was revived or invented by Balambhatdada Deodhar, the fitness instructor of Peshwa Baji Rao II during the reign of the Peshwas. During the first half of the 19th century, Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi learned Mallakhamb with her childhood friends Nana Sahib and Tantia Tope.
Performance of Mallakhamb
Mallakhamb is not as simple as it may seem. The performance of Mallakhamb is quite tough and it requires great concentration. Exercising on the pole requires a gymnast to perform various tasks like twisting, turning and stretching apart from balancing on the pole. Mallakhamb demands refinement, nimbleness, great amount of flexibility and also super reflexes.
Types of Mallakhamb
There are many variations of this sport but competitively mainly three types of Mallakhamb are performed. They are:
Pole or fixed Mallakhamb
Benefits of Mallakhamb
The benefits of Mallakhamb training are innumerable. Mallakhamb exercises make the body light and strong. These exercises are most beneficial for the stomach, back, arms and thighs, and have been found useful to achieve efficiency in a number of other games and sports like gymnastics and wrestling. The Mallakhamb sport affects the spinal cord most, which develops energy and increases longevity, and is the only exercise in which all big and small organs of the body are active.
Mallakhamb in Competition
Over 25 states of India take part in the Mallakhamb events that are held at the national level. The national level tournament is organized in four separate groups according to age including under 12, under 14, under 17/18 (17 for women and 18 for men) and above 17/18. The Madhya Pradesh Government on 9th April 2013 decided to declare Mallakhamb as the ‘State Sport’.
Popularity of Mallakhamb
Mallakhamb is a famous sport in Maharashtra and other states of India too. Its popularity has escalated so much that it has got its entry in TV reality shows as well. Mallakhamb has been used in Indian talent shows like “India’s Got Talent” and “Dance India Dance”. Also in the Bollywood movie, “Kisna: The Warrior Poet”, some sequences of this dance form was performed by actress Isha Sharvani.