Wearing sportswear and short hair like a son, Indian female wrestlers are often laughed at by men and parents object. Even so, they persist in pursuing passion.
The narrow street of Delhi is still dark on a cold winter morning. Some of the city’s poorest residents curled up in thin blankets and slept on the sidewalk with goats eating trash and wild dogs. Even hot masala tea shops are not open. The crowded capital of India is still silent before dawn.
A group of young girls in sports suits appeared from the fog. They try to speak small but sometimes can’t stop the laughter. This is their favorite time of day.
They went towards a creature, called akhara, a word derived from Sanskrit. Some believe that the ancient form of kushti wrestling is practiced here as the ancestors of all forms of wrestling in the world.
Traditionally, the akhara square is the only playground for men. “Women are not only unable to practice but are not allowed to watch the tournaments in the countryside,” journalist Deepak Ansuia Prasad, a former wrestler, told the South China Morning Post.
Convex-concave, deformed ears
However, time is gradually changing that. Girls in Delhi today are like many other places in the country that are bound by this tradition struggling for equality. The youngest member of the group is only 12 years old. I proudly show off my convex and deformed ears.
“Many people say it is ugly but it proves that I can fight hard because only wrestlers have ears like that,” she said.
Before entering the training room to start training, the girls bowed to the colorful statue of Hanuman, the monkey-faced Hindu god worshiped by Indian wrestlers.
The oldest member, Divya Kakran, has just turned 19. She is the third Indian to win a silver medal at the Asian Wrestling Tournament. More than 40 other medals are decorated in her simple home not far from the gym.