Kila Raipur Rural Olympics, Ludhiana, India

Kila Raipur Sports Festival, popularly known as the Rural Olympics, is held annually in Kila Raipur (near Ludhiana), in Punjab, India. Competition is held for major Punjabi rural sports, including cart-race, rope pulling. In February each year, Ludhiana becomes the destination for hundreds of sports enthusiasts, including foreigners. They come to Kila Raipur to see the special breed of bullocks, camels, dogs, mules and other animals competing in competitive events. The most prestigious winners have attended. In the year of the Olympics 2008, Hakam and Naib Singh Dhaliwal from village Kalsian, Punjab took the 1st place (prize). They also won first in gujjaral and phalewal. They are known in Punjab as the men who hold the greatest passion in the sport.

In 1933 philanthropist Inder Singh Grewal visualized an annual recreational meet where farmers from areas surrounding Kila Raipur could get together and test their corporal endurance. The idea gave birth to Kila Raipur Sports, the undisputed “Rural Olympics”.  In over six decades the festival has grown from a toddler to a prancing, energetic youthful organization. This pioneer rural sports festival has become an annual international event, which is normally held in the first weekend of February. A dynamic team of organisers – Grewal Sports Association – has taken yet again another pioneering step of giving rural women a break in sports.

Today this festival of the rustics attracts more than 4,000 sportsmen and women, both of recognized and traditional sports. The three-day festival is witnessed by more than a million people. Besides, several million others watch it on television. The games are held in true Punjabi spirit. Villagers astride three horses, including one attired in Nihang wear, come galloping down from a distance raising a lot of dust. A battle cry goes up as they aim their lances at the pegs. All three manage to gallop away with the wooden pegs. The stands in the stadium reverberate with the cheers. The exercise calls for an uncanny sense of anticipation and clocklike precision. Carts pulled by mule’s streak past moving unevenly. The cart owners call out to their mules to move faster. Soon the carts disappear into the distant crowd, the villagers moving out of harm’s way as fast as they can. Then there are the six years old and the above 70s who show their physical strength and stamina. A young man pulls a truck with his teeth, a young boy spins on his thumb and one finger while an above 70 wields “mungli”.

This Rural Olympic truly displays the true spirit of India. It invites thousands of globe trotters to visit the event.

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