The Indian Rural Olympics

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Kila Raipur Sports Festival, popularly known as Rural Olympic, is held annually in Kila Raipur (near Ludhiana), in Punjab.It is a 4 day competition  held for major Punjabi rural sports, include cart-race, rope pulling.

In February each year, Ludhiana becomes the destination for hundreds of sports enthusiasts, including foreigners. Many of them have never seen bullock carts or camels running for coveted cash prizes in speed races. They come to Kila Raipur to see the special breed of bullocks, camels, dogs, mules and other animals competing in highly professional events.

Besides these there are events which mark “excellence in human corporal endurance”. Ruralites come here, carrying with them their “loaded rucksacks”, huge stones, “munglis” and what not. They display their valour, and their expertise before a packed stadium in between major events. Nihang Sikhs organise displays of horse racing, tent pegging and even “Gatka”. It is here that Punjabi folklore and culture is on full display.

At the end of each day’s events, the spectators do not walk back home. Rather they stay on. They wait for the cultural feast, which follows. Every evening, top notch folk singers, Bhangra and Gidha Players are in attendance. The programme continues well past midnight on all three day of the festival.

For those who are for recognised and Olympic sports, the Festival offers a lot. One can watch the best hockey players, both men and women, during the festival. Then greats like Parveen Kumar, Gurdeep Singh, Lehembar Singh, Manjit Walia and others who have set the muddy track and sparsely grassy field on fire with their inspiring performances here. Then it is Kabaddi & Tug of war which have instant popularity and acceptability here. The competitions are in different age groups, both for men and women. Cycling is another event which gets overwhelming response here.

Today, the Kila Raipur stadium can accommodate more than 50,000 spectators at a time. Attached to the stadium is a hostel. A multygym and two grassy hockey fields add to the congenial and healthy environs of the entire sports complex.

Located 15 km south of mini Tokyo of Punjab (Ludhiana), Kila Raipur is well connected by rail, road and even air. The union capital of New Delhi is just three hours train journey or 40 minutes flight from Ludhiana.

It was in 1933. Philanthropist Inder Singh Grewal visualised an annual recreational meet where farmers from areas surrounding Kila Raipur could get together and test their corporal endurance. The idea gave birth to Kila Raipur Sports, the undisputed “Rural Olympics”.

In over six decades the festival has grown from a toddler to a prancing, energetic youthful organisation. This pioneer rural sports festival has become an annual international event, which is normally held in the first weekend of February. A dynamic team of organisers – Grewal Sports Association – has taken yet again another pioneering step of giving rural women a break in sports.

76th Kila Raipur Sports Festival ended on 12th February 2012 with horse racing , as bullock cart races have now been banned by the Union government.

Sources: http://www.ruralolympics.net/

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