Though gatka is a traditional Punjabi martial arts associated largely with the Sikh religion, the sport is gradually spreading its wings to other states too after it was included in the National School Games last year.
Whereas there were just four gatka teams last year, the number this year has gone to six in the 61st ediution of the games being held in the district.
Teams from Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Chandigarh, Delhi, and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) are participating in the game.
Moreover, girls from Bihar, Uttarakhand, and Malayalam are part of the Chandigarh team.
The events in gatka commenced on Tuesday at Senior Secondary Girls School, Nehru Garden.
GS Bajwa, coach of the Chandigarh team, said, “It feels great to see girls showing interest in the game from other states too. It used to be a myth that the game is only that of the Punjab region, but the thinking has changed a lot and students from different regions are adopting gatka.”
Baljinder Singh Toor, national coordinator, Gatka Federation of India (GFI), said the game was started by sixth Sikh Guru Hargobind for self-defence. The game is never meant to attack others.
“We are happy to see that the game is getting popular in other states too. We are determined to get more than 15 teams next year in the games,” Toor said.
Coaches from Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh said that now gatka is no more confined to Punjab as players from others states too have noticed the game.
Members of the Uttar Pradesh team which made its debut in the games this time, said playing gatka is fun and it also tests one’s physical strength.
UP coach Jaspal Singh said that it is the beauty of the sports that they are above any religion, caste and creed and team members are taking part in the game with full enthusiasm.
In the Uttar Pradesh team, not even a single team member is a Sikh.
Solanki Himanshu Nathala, coach of Gujarat team, said, “We had played last year also. Gatka is played in more than 12 districts in Gujarat. The players show equal respect to the weapons that are used in the game as Sikhs do.