Reference of wrestling in Indian Epics
The characters like Jarasandha, Bhima, Karna and Duryodhan 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 GujaratiBrahmin 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, pulses, sweets, sugar and delicious sweets. The wrestlers used to maintain their health and strength by performing physical exercises on a regular basis.
Wrestling in British Era
During the British Raj in India, wrestling was encouraged and the British officials inducted wrestlers into the military. 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.
Pehlwani and Wrestling in India
The 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.