Dangal Inspired 478 Year Old Akhada to Welcome Women Wrestlers


Women’s wrestling gaining unprecedented popularity. First, the stir created by Sakshi Malik on winning Olympics 2016 bronze-medal. Then came a film like Dangal.  So much so, that the traditional akhadas in small towns are also bringing in gender diversity. Recently, the 478 years old Swaminath Akhada situated at Tulsi Ghat in Varanasi, which is famous for organizing dangal matches during ‘Naang Panchami’, opened its doors for women wrestlers.

On Friday, the Tulsi Ghat witnessed both men and women in huge numbers while earlier it was considered a ‘men-only’ arena. Women spectators made history by joining in huge numbers to watch their friends fight it out in a traditional ‘daanv pench’.

The organiser, Sankatmochan Foundation gives its due credit to the movie Dangal to enhance their knowledge on women’s wrestling.

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Apart from the movie, the foundation regards Dr Vishambhar Nath Mishra as a benefactor.  Dr Mishra is a professor and mahant of the Sankatmochan temple.  And  has been a great supporter of gender equality when it comes to the sport.

“Our home in Varanasi is the place where Rani Laxmibai was born. By opening the ancient akhada for women wrestlers, we wish to encourage girls to take forward the Laxmibai’s valour and courage,” says Dr Vijaya Nath Mishtra, the mahant’s brother and a neurologist, DNA reported.

The dangal consisted of three rounds of matches with half the girls being eliminated in each round. In the end, four girls have been declared winners by Sankatmochan Foundation.

“It was amazing to wrestle at the place where my grandpa Kallu Pahlwan and his pupils practised for years.” says Palak Yadav (10), one of the winners. She is among scores of girls in UP who took up wrestling after watching Dangal.

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