Olympics Begin In
Begin typing your search above and press return to search.


Pro Kabaddi League 2019: The fascinating history of kabaddi's origin and its evolution

Pro Kabaddi League 2019: The fascinating history of kabaddis origin and its evolution

Arpan Ghosh

Published: 22 July 2019 11:07 AM GMT
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when it comes to Kabaddi? A few years ago, somebody would’ve answered in a voice mixed with contempt, “A sport that looks a lot like Kushti (wrestling), yoked into a team sport, played in the villages by people who don’t mind dust and dirt all over their bodies”. But in 2019, the same question would fetch a pair of glittering eyes saying “ A game that is played by fourteen players, divided in two teams where both would try to fetch points by going into the other teams’ territory”. In short, in the last ten years, the game has come from being “a rustic unsophisticated pastime” to “an intense contest of muscle and skill in a 13 ft /10 ft mat”. But there is a lot more than what meets the eye! The etymology of the word “Kabaddi” roots back to the 5,000-year-old Vedic era Southern India, where the phrase “Kai-pidi” referred to “Holding hands”. The game was famous among the seafarers, and therefore it didn’t take long for the sport to reach the other South Asian countries. But the form of the sport went through a massive change during the first great war. No, not the first World War, but the Mahabharata! Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna, known for his might and valour, knew how to enter the Chakrabyuha (a circular Seven layered battle formation) but didn’t know how to get out of it. On the 13th day of the war, Abhimanyu entered the trap set for him and perished. And since then, in remembrance of Abhimanyu, the game has morphed into a game of two teams with seven players each, resembling the Chakrabyuha. Apart from the mythological relation, the game has been graced by numerous Kings and Sages alike, Mahabodhi Gautam Buddha being one of them! But with time, the game lost its grandeur and became a rural sport due to its physical nature. But it is the same physical nature that helped the sport survive the claws of time as this became an essential part of Akharas (Rural wrestling centres) all over the country. With time and with the arrival of other fast and less physical sports like cricket, kabaddi continued to stay in the back seat. But with time, things started to change again.
In 1920, the first official kabaddi competition was hosted in India, followed by its inclusion in the 1938 Indian Olympic Games. In 1950, further glory came as Indian Kabaddi Federation was formed and kabaddi was introduced as a demonstrative event in the 1951 inaugural Olympic games. Slowly kabaddi became the sport that immediately connected to India, but in the country, it still had a long way to go for its recognition. In 1994, it was Mashal Sports Pvt Ltd who came up with the idea to present it to people in a proper league format which will be played between multiple teams. But still, struggling for funds, the idea was withheld for a good two decades before getting their first eight franchise based 37-day tournament which attracted 435 million viewers, the Pro Kabaddi League, second to none other than the Indian Premier League. Since then, there has been no looking back.
Next Story