Perhaps, Lahore has already lost the battle in Pehlwani.
Pehlwani once was the crown of Punjab’s sports is now left with a very few loyalists trying their best not to let the game extinct.
Pehlwani or “mud wrestling”, is a sport which dates back to the 5th millennium B.C., where it traces its roots before many well-known foreign invasions in the sub-continent. It is commonly known as Kushti and is a young man’s sport, with the practitioners oiling up and putting on loincloths, practising in the early morning.
Sadly, the sport is almost near to extinction due to innumerable factors.
Decades ago, hundreds of men used to practice in the akharas of Punjab. Tournaments and championships were held regularly. Now only dozens remain committed to keeping the tradition, which lacks financial support from the government and moral support from the public, alive.
However, in India, Pehlwani is still quite popular. From their superstars to the common people, Indians are still playing their role in keeping the tradition of wrestling alive. We have seen movies like Salman Khan’s Sultan and Amir Khan’s Dangal that have provided a boost to the dying sport within the country.
However, keeping the practice alive in modern Pakistan would require a different and aggressive approach. From government to common people, every stakeholder will have to work for the revival of Pehlwani.