Punjab : Rural Olympics of India attracts many from across the country
Men lifting bricks with their teeth, pulling cars with their hair, performing handstands on glass bottles and racing tractors at breakneck pace drew thousands of people from across India to northern Punjab state for the annual ‘Rural Olympics’. The sports festival, founded in 1933 and held in Kila Raipur, includes 40 to 50 events and is a blend of accepted sporting disciplines and other more unusual pursuits. Bullock-cart racing, formerly one of the main attractions of the event, was replaced by horse race after the apex court put a ban on Jallikattu, a sport involving bulls. However, there are enough events to keep the participants engaged for three full days-from traditional sports like hockey and athletics to the non-traditional tyre-pushing races and endurance competitions. Organisers said the purpose behind the games is to keep alive the tradition and culture of Punjab and help connect youngsters to their roots. The gatherings like these also provide an opportunity for the Sikhs of the Nihang to display their war games and attract young people to physical activities. Traditionally, the spectacle mainly appealed to local villagers when entertainment was thin on the ground, but enthusiasm for the games is also extending to city dwellers who see it as a window to rural life and culture.