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Nada Kusti

In almost every culture, there have been ritual fights for leadership. One form in India is called Nada Kusti, which in Kannada, the language of the inhabitants of Karnataka, means “local way of wrestling.“ The headquarters of the sport is in the capital city of Mysore, where Maharajas patronize organized matches every year during the religious festival of Dasara. Historically, these matches were merely courtly tournaments where guards would wrestle each other for the entertainment of the royals. But the games grew larger over time, and currently professional Nada Kusti wrestlers fight outside the palace in a red-clay arena. They train in gyms called garadi with only traditional Nada Kusti equipment, such as stone weights, wooden bars, and various-sized clubs. The garadi is seen as both a gym and a community. Participation in special ceremonies unites the authority of a guru and strengthens this community. The fall of feudalism and progressing modernization of India have led to a severe drop of public interest in Nada Kusti, particularly among the younger generation. Today, functioning garadi in Mysore has fallen to less than ten. The rest have been shut down or transformed into gyms and fitness clubs. Without government or private support, this sporting tradition may completely fade away.

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