By Ashok Pal
Gwalior, Jan.27 : A group of children in Gwalior recently left the audience dazzled when they performed Malkhamb, the dare-devil ancient gymnast art form of balancing on a pole or rope, in a presentation on physical fitness during an ongoing trade fair.
Malkhamb has been a traditional physical fitness event of Maharashtra in which young boys and girls demonstrate their skills. "Malla" is man and "Khamb" denotes pole.
"I like doing Yogasanas and Malkhamb. I have been doing this for the past two years and my mental state and physical health has been very good. It is very important for government to develop this sport," said Sneha Sharma, a student from Ujjain.
Some of the special dare-devil performances included Hanging Malkhamb and Fixed-rope, besides special 'asanas' (postures) like 'Padamvakrasana', Vyaghrasana, Merudandasana and Chakrasana.
Malkhamb coaches wished that the Government should support and provide encouragement to such conventional events of yore.
"Malkhamb is not a game but a mode of keeping oneself fit by mastering the art of balancing on a pole. It is good for flexibility and the strength also increases. In this competition organised here, 18 teams have taken part," said Yogesh, a Malkhamb coach.
While Malkhamb was the main attraction, the participants also performed many other breathtaking Yogasanas and other traditional Indian fitness events like stunts on ropes and using bottles.
"Malkhamb is really an important exercise of psycho-physical coordination, performed on pole by many," said Bhushan, another coach.
This ancient sport of Maharashtra was rejuvenated and given a contemporary feel in the 19th century. Dada Balambhat Deodhar is stated to be the formulator of Malkhamb in its modern form.
Sadly, the interest in this art dwindled over a period of time. But keeping its significance in view, some like-minded organisations in Madhya Pradesh have joined hands to revive this ancient sport.
Legend has it that Lord Hanuman pioneered this sport of climbing a pole and balancing on it, known as Malkhamb.
Malkhamb also makes use of a number of yogic postures and consequently control over the breath is achieved. The brain functions better and other faculties like memory, concentration and co-ordination are also developed.
The practitioners display mental and physical attributes like flexibility, focus and balance. It is said that through Malkhamb one can control both mind and body.