These guys are huddling together to discuss their team’s strategy in the middle of their beach-side game of kabaddi. How do I explain kabaddi given that I don’t understand it myself? Here goes – two teams stand on opposing sides of a court. There’s a line down the centre of the court (you can see that in the top right of the photo). A team sends one of their members to raid the other team. They must run to the other side of the court and tag a member of the opposing team and then run back over the centre line to safetly. This must be done whilst holding their breath and chanting ‘kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi‘, over and over until they’re safe. The opposing team must try to bring down the raider and stop them from doing this. Of course it’s much more strategic and complex than that but I’m just a beginner!
I’d never heard of kabaddi before I started travelling in India and this was the first time I’d seen it being played live, but I’ve seen it a lot since in Bollywood movies. I remember watching one movie in which an young up-and-coming kabaddi star is staring down a bunch of bad guys armed with machetes (he’s trying to protect his girl) and mutters ‘kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi‘ to psych himself up. And just last week I saw a brand new Bollywood film called Dear Zindagi in which Shah Rukh Khan (a mega, mega, mega, mega, mega star in India) plays kabaddi with the ocean.
A sport that originated in ancient India, kabaddi (the word for it depends on where in India you live) is now played internationally, by both men and women.
Chowpatty Beach, Mumbai, Maharashtra