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Dangal Traditional Indian Wrestling

Photographer: Harish Tyagi


Wrestling also known as Kushti (Indian traditional wrestling) is an ancient sport with a glorious past. Traditional Dangal (Competition) is a unique way of promoting the local Pehlwan or wrestlers who practice traditional wrestling in India. During the Dangal, hundreds of local Pehlwan come from the nearby regions or states to participate and to display their skills.

Depending on the importance of the competition and the amount of the prize money, the number of participants can reach more than 100 wrestlers. Dangal is very popular among the villagers and in the rural areas in northern India and most of the time it is organized by local clubs or traditional Indian gyms, as well by local politicians to gain popularity. During the tournament, all Kushtis take place in rings made of clay or mud, sometimes mixed with ghee, mustard oil, turmeric and other materials which are believed to act as antiseptics.

These competitions are not bound to follow the usual wrestling rules but follow the knockout rule (where in each round the loser is eliminated) or, in this particular event a point system was implemented. The wrestlers fight in age and weight groups and each fight last from 6 to 20 minutes. The traditional Dangal may take place any time of the year depending on the occasion as this can be a death / birth anniversary of a local leader or an annual or bi-annually contest.