Women wrestlers in Varanasi make new beginning; swing maces, clubs
Only male wrestlers were seen swinging of maces (gada) and clubs (jodi) at events organised to mark Nag Panchami in Varanasi until last year. But not anymore.
A group of 50 woman wrestlers were allowed to do these exercises at Sports Stadium, Sigra, this Nag Panchami on Monday.
“As per the tradition, it was thought that only men wrestlers can do mace and clubs swinging exercises. But around a month back, I spoke to our girls (woman wrestlers) and asked whether they would like to do these exercises and they replied in the affirmative. That very moment, I decided that our girls will break this conventional practice on the occasion of Nag Panchami this year,” said Gorakhanath Yadav, the wrestling coach at the Sampurnanand Stadium here.
Soon after, Yadav started imparting training to the women wrestlers and on Monday the local women wrestlers made a new beginning.
As wrestler Rajeshwari Singh lifted the mace and swung it, the crowd greeted her with applause. She swung the mace 374 times and stood first while Bhavna Kumari bagged the second place by swinging the mace 354 times. Likewise, Renuka Kumari swung club 184 times and stood first while Preeti Singh got the second place by swinging club 165 times. “We practice wrestling daily at the stadium. Around a month back, we started preparations for the mace swinging competition under the guidance of Guruji (Gorakhnath Yadav),” Rajeshwari said.
In dumbbell competition, Nidhi Singh stood first and Preeti Kumari bagged the second price. Singh swung dumbbells 234 times and Kumari 230 times.
A wrestling competition also took place wherein Preeti Singh defeated Archana Prajapati. Two years back, Akhada Goswami Tulsidas, Assi Ghat, opened door for woman wrestlers in the wrestling competition.
Moreover, wrestling coach Gorakhnath Yadav said Monday was a big day in his life because his female pupils participated in the competition and locals supported and encouraged them. They defeated the age-old practice and made a new beginning, he added.