Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) from countries like Canada, USA, and England plan their holidays around the Kila Raipur games to witness the festival.
The 83rd Kila Raipur Rural Sports Festival got underway on Friday, in the northern state of Punjab in India, with much excitement and celebration. Over 3,000 athletes from various age groups, ranging from 7 to 90 years old, are expected to participate in a range of competitions over the course of three days. The festival, which has been organized annually in the first week of February, had a gap of four years due to a legal dispute over ownership of the land where the games take place.
Old and young participate in the event
The festival saw a mix of seasoned athletes and young participants, with 90-year-old Teja Singh Phallewal of Phallewal village in Ludhiana district participating in the various athletics events and 7-year-old Gunjan from Haryana taking part in the 1500-m race.
History of Kila Raipur Sports Festival
The history of the Kila Raipur games dates back to 1933 when a team from Kila Raipur participated in a hockey tournament in Jalandhar and came in second place. A prominent family in the village felt proud of this achievement and decided to promote sports in their community by organizing a small inter-village tournament that year, which included volleyball and track events. The local sports association was formed with a membership fee of one rupee and in 1943, the fee was increased to fifteen rupees. The association organized community kitchens to provide food for players and spectators and built an athletic track in the sports stadium in the mid-1940s.
Popular events at the “The Rural Olympic”
Bullock cart races were a popular event in the 1940s and 1950s, and camel and suhaga races were also organized before independence. However, bullock cart races were banned by the Supreme Court in 2014, but the organizers are hopeful that the ban will be lifted. Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) from countries like Canada, USA, and England plan their holidays around the Kila Raipur games to witness the festival.
Pure gold and silver cups
The festival used to feature a pure gold cup weighing more than 1 kg and a 1 kg silver cup as prizes. The gold cup was the main attraction of the festival and was the running trophy for the winner of the hockey tournament, while the silver cup was a rolling trophy for the runner-up team. However, these cups will be missing from this year’s festival as they are in the possession of the previous organizing committee.
Women in rural sports
In 1950, the event’s organizing committee decided to include women in the sports festival and organized a hockey match. The association faced opposition to this decision, but both men’s and women’s sports events were finally introduced in 1953. This year, the equal prize money has been set for all events, with a first prize of Rs 75,000 for the hockey tournament and a second prize of Rs 50,000. The circle-style kabaddi tournament has prize money of rupees six lakhs.
Overall, the 83rd Kila Raipur Rural Sports Festival promises to be a spectacle of athleticism and sportsmanship, with participants from various age groups coming together to compete and celebrate the joy of sports.