It’s a shame really that India’s famous and biggest rural Olympics will not be held this year.
I’m so disheartened to learn this. For months, I was looking forward to going to Kila Raipur Rural Sports Festival and just when I thought I would be able to make it I came to know this.
Many rural games enthusiasts, who have been gearing up for this international festival, will also be very disappointed to hear this.
The Grewal Sports Association, which organises the event, has cancelled the spectacular festival this year as it is facing severe lack of funds.
The festival is generally held in mid February. This is the best time to be in northern rural India where fields are lush with standing crop of wheat and mustard, trees are blooming, flowers are bursting with colours and the weather is at its pleasant best. Basically, it’s time to experience Nature springing back to life after cold wintry months.
I had been dreaming to be in Kila Raipur near Ludhiana in Punjab to refresh my memory of traditional sports, to see cattle kicking off the dust on the tracks and to soak in the rustic experience along with hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts who come here to witness the one-of-its kind sports festival.
Sport enthusiasts come here from across India and abroad, particularly America, Canada and the European countries.
I had heard so much about it where over 4,000 villagers and farmers come to test their endurance in horse riding, bullock carts race, camel race, tent pegging, tug of war, ‘kabbadi’, cycling and other traditional sports.
Both men and women take part in different age groups. Apart from games, the festival showcases vibrant Punjabi folk dances, music and a riot of colours.
2010 will miss all this.
The association has been successfully running the event festival for the past 74 years. This is the first time in its history when it has broken away from its tradition due to the lack of funds.
Paramjit Singh Grewal, Secretary of the Grewal Sports Association, told me that they are sad for not being able to hold the annual festival.
“We are short of significant funds which we need to organise the festival; put up tents for sportsmen; and make necessary arrangements for the entire event,” said Grewal.
The association has not recovered from last year’s losses. Many sponsors who promised it money backed out due to recession. And this year not many corporate houses have shown much interest to make the three-day festival possible.
“We are still short of about RS 7-1000000 (about 14-22,000 USD). Until we are able to arrange that kind of money we can’t hold it this year,” rued Grewal.
However, he is sure of holding the event next year. And, I wish many sponsors come forward to make this spectacular event possible.