Mallakhamb: Those inconspicuous heroes!

    I am not a sporty one, you see; I prefer going to the cinema or to an exhibition rather than running in the sun for hours wearing an ugly tracksuit and bulky unladylike sneakers. So, creating a « sports » category on my blog was « No way! » But yesterday, I remembered seeing an incredible video showing half naked young men twisting at the top of a pole and there was no lusty game in that, in any case, I swear!

So I went to google and typed « pole – india ».

There was quite little information about this sport, apart from the youtube films that bloggers broadcast again and again, like I am doing now! I had to search for a few minutes before I got the brilliant idea to type « wiki » next to « pole gymnastics » and I realised that this sport was actually called « Mallakhamb », « malla » for « strong man » and « khamb » for « pole ». It might have appeared in the 12th century but the 19th century is more likely. It was practised by wrestlers as additional training.

The rules are simple: a young and agile man, dressed in little-clingy-most-of-the-time-orange underpants, jumps upto the top of a nearly two-meter-high wooden pole and carry out as many acrobatic figures and poses as he can. It is really impressive to see these monkeylike boys, turning and twisting rapidly in the air. When I use the word « monkeylike », there is no offense at all! The tree-trunk-like wooden pole and the men nearly in the nude send us back to ancestral nature. It is the legacy of nature and earth. The legacy of wild India. It is a long way from the sophisticated and neverending cricket games!

Thus, in July 2012, when I watch on TV a tall proud Russian gymnast covered with talcum powder turning a couple of times around parallel bars before landing with much effort onto an olympic carpet, I will think of those breathtaking men, those inconspicuous Mallakhamb heroes!

And before clicking on « play » and listening to « Marjaani Marjaani Kasame » from the film Bilu Barber at the same time, let’s ponder over this quotation from Wikipedia: « In recent Indian talent shows like India’s Got Talent and Dance India Dance mallakhamb has been used in dance acts, but Mallakhamb is not a form of dance and it should not be confused with pole dancing. »

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