By SHARATH S. SRIVATSA, The Hindu
MYSORE SEPT. 16 ‘Nada kusti’, the traditional form of wrestling, is in the throes of extinction, thanks largely to Government indifference and lack of interest among the public.
This ancient sport, which received royal patronage for centuries and was supported by philanthropists, is struggling, with many of the over 70 ‘garadis’ (gymnasiums) in the city and 150 in the district being on the verge of closure. This is because from ancient days the ‘garadis’ had depended on contributions for their existence and did not charge any admission fee. Donations are not forthcoming now.
Launched in organised form by Raja Wadiyar in the 16th century, ‘nada kusti’ touched the zenith during the rule of Krishnaraj Wadiyar IV in the first half of the 20th century. Now it has been relegated to the status of a rural sport.
The wrestlers get a meagre income. The changing trends have had their effect, with the wrestlers being unable to perform better on the faster, modern mats. Introduced both at the State and national level, the mats make for a faster form of the sport than the mud platform (see picture).
In an otherwise gloomy situation, the only silver lining is that many wrestlers have excelled in the State and national championships despite all the shortcomings. While there were over 800 wrestlers in the city, which was once considered a bastion of the sport, only three modern mats are available — at Mysore University, the Chamundi Vihar Stadium and the S. Chennaiah Akada.
The general secretary of the Mysore District Wrestling Association, Yajaman S. Mahadev, told The Hindu that the Government had failed to promote this sport in the region even though it was essentially popular among the masses. He said that though Mysore wrestlers had the upper hand over their rivals they still had to reach the standards of wrestlers from Punjab, Maharashtra and Punjab.
While the ‘yajamans’ and ‘pailwans’ pass on the traditional techniques to the younger generation, the trained coaches could improve their skills, Mr. Mahadev felt. At present, there are only two such trained coaches in the city.
He said that though there were hostels for wrestlers in northern Karnataka, no such facility existed in the Mysore region. Scholarships could be provided for the wrestlers as most of them were from the economically weaker sections of society.
The lot of the retired wrestlers is more miserable. The ‘ustads’, ‘khalifs’ and ‘yajamans’ have been giving training without remuneration and many of them are in near penury. In an earlier age, the retired wrestlers were appointed to royal service in recognition of their contribution in the field.