A busy bus station with conductors shouting, people wandering around, tea being served, sounds like any other place of India, right? Well, the bus station I am talking about is in Ludhiana and the hardcore Punjabi language prevalent here is making me wonder if Honey Singh and Badshah taught enough. I think I’ll ask for a refund after this festival is over.
After asking around, I finally get on a bus to Dehlon. Where am I going, you ask? So Dehlon or how locals call Dhellon, is where you should be visiting to attend Kila Raipur Sports Festival.
So I reach Dehlon, take another bus blaring Punjabi songs in volume louder than human ear can ever comprehend, it drops me near the festival ground. I walk, enter the stadium. Punjabi is everywhere, people greet me, see my camera and tell me to go that way. ‘Tussi otthe jao’, (Go, that way) I realize that it is the entry gate for the journalists, I didn’t have a press pass, I enter anyway, my huge camera hides my identity. People are really naïve in small cities; a big camera makes you a big shot journalist. I wonder if it also increases chances of getting kidnapped.
Kila Raipur sports festival is a traditional sporting event in the state of Punjab. This festival is held annually in the month of February and invites different performers and athletes from of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. What makes Kila Raipur different than other sporting events is the fact that most of the events are really bizarre. The traditional sporting events include Kabaddi, Football, cycling and sprints.
But then there is a point where things not only get out of the box but it actually shreds the box into pieces and toss it in a dumpster. Athletes compete with each other to get ahead in tyre lifting competition. There is a race of the hunter dogs from Punjab police and they’ll only listen to their handlers and no one else. Two teams compete to lift sacks of wheat and the winner is decided by counting which team was able to put how many sacks in the truck.
Kila Raipur was known for the bullock cart race which got banned when animal rights groups protested against it. The race is doesn’t exist anymore but you can still take a glimpse of horse cart and mule cart race. The animals are in the mood to compete as fiercely as their masters. It is said that entire village contributes in the training of that said animal because it is village that the team is representing and not the person.
It was a fine change to be somewhere, where you won’t see hoardings of multinational brands sponsoring the event. Instead, I got to see a rural rustic side of Punjab that was unlike any other place I have ever been to. The kindness of the locals and an intimidating feeling around the big shot photographers was something that I haven’t felt ever in my life. But then, I returned home with some pretty nice shots. What do you think?
When: Kila Raipur Rural Olympics is held every year in the month of February
How to Reach: Ludhiana is the nearest city where you can stay. There are buses leaving for Dehlon every half an hour from ISBT. From Dehlon you can catch a tuktuk to sports venue.