For “dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return”. The vast majority of humanity not only acknowledges that metaphorically... Read More
For “dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return”. The vast majority of humanity not only acknowledges that metaphorically our bodies have a special relationship with dust. ‘Sons of the soil’ are thus centred and rooted to the lands they inhabit. Traditional Indian wrestlers are sons of the soil par excellence – their entire lives are spent in the ‘akhara’, the earthen arena where they practice their sport. In truth, being a ‘pahalwan’ or a traditional Indian wrestler is more a life-choice than just a sport. The ideal towards which a pahalwan strives is really about attaining both a disciplined body and a disciplined mind. These disciplinary praxis are contoured by the rituals of a pahalwan’s particular lifelong relationship with the soil. He first creates the very soil of the arena by tilling it, mixing therapeutic ingredients into it, sieving it, beating it fine. He ritually worships the same soil before he enters his everyday practice sessions. He spends hours on it, pounding it with his body, rolling on it, pouring sweat over it and applying it liberally so as to cool his fevered body and it is on this soil that he collapses when he has had enough. This is where he zones out. He embraces the soil as it embraces him. His very existence is grounded on and into this earthen arena. These images are my attempt at presenting this pivotal truth about ‘pahalwans’ and homage to a way of life, which with onslaught of modernity is dying out.