Citizens for Justice and Peace

`No religion please, we’re all pehelwans’

05, Jan 2016

Jan 06 2016 : The Times of India (Mumbai)

Ishita Mishra
As the nation wres les with the issue of “tolerance“, it needs only to look at the wrestlers of Mallaka Chautra Akhada in Agra’s Shahganj to see how communal amity can be a lived experience.
Recently , as a guru at the akhada lost his pet langoor, many wrestlers shaved off heir heads as a mark of sorrow. Among those were some Muslims too. Mohammad Danish Pahelwan -it s a tradition here for the wrestler to add `pehelwan’ as his last name regardless whether one is a Muslim or Hindu -said his family was shocked to see his head bare. “My family kept tell ng me that it was not Islam c. But I follow the traditions of my akhada. On Tuesday ,I pray to Hanuman, so I too can get the strength and focus that he is renowned for,“ Danish told TOI.
Here, both Hindu and Muslim wrestlers start their day with a prayer to Lord Hanuman, guardian deity of rural wrestling.
At the kushti tournament during the recent Saifai event, wrestlers from this akhada made a name for themselves. “My boys have just defeated well trained wrestlers from Delhi and Haryana in the `dangal’ at Saifai on Monday . Mulayam Singh Yadav gave away the awards. One of my boys has just won a state-level championship in Hathras,“ said Ramesh Chandra Pahelwan, the master at the akhada.


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