India is famously known for its rich culture, heritage and forms of art. Yet, there are a few notable sports and games which are believed to have originated from the state of India. Kho-Kho being one of those, has always been at the heart of rural India. People from all walks of life, love to play this game though it is nothing but a highly modified version of ‘Run Chase’.
Origin of Kho-Kho in Indian epic
Though the game of Kho-Kho is extremely simple in nature, the origin story of this beautiful game is quite the opposite. Many believe the game to have been inspired from the Hindu sacred text of Mahabharata.
The legend goes that on the thirteenth day of the war of Mahabharata the General of Kauravas, Dronacharya, created the ‘Chakravyuha’- a military defensive circle. The fearless warrior Abhimanyu was killed due in this Chakravyuha having to fight seven warriors alone, but he managed to inflict heavy causalities over Kauravas. The tactic used by Abhimanyu to fight this defensive circle and many other is frequently put in use in the game of Kho-Kho.
It is also said that the game of Kho-Kho was played using chariots during ancient periods. As the chariots are called ‘Rath’ in Sanskrit and Hindi, the game was then popular by the name ‘Rathera’.
Modern day adaptation of Kho-Kho
The modern form of Kho-Kho was shaped by the Deccan Gymkhana of Pune which was founded by Lokmanya Tilak. The Deccan Gymkhana tried to structuralise this ancient game by including and modifying some rules and regulations to make it more acceptable amongst common people.
The very first Kho-Kho competitions in the modern form can be traced back to the year 1914, but it was not until the year 1959 that the game was played at the national level. In between this period various efforts were undertaken to globalise Kho-Kho but none of them bore any success.
The Kho-Kho Federation of India was then established as Akhil Bhartiya Kho Kho Mandal in the year 1955 and it was under this federation that the first national championship was held in Vijayawada during the 1959-60 season.
The Kho-Kho federation was incorporated into the Indian Olympic Association after almost three decades in the year 1982. The same year also witnessed the first ever international Kho-Kho match in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata.
Going big in world stage
The game was demonstrated during the South Asian Games in Kolkata in 1987 and it was during the same time that the Asian Kho-Kho Federation was formed which helped propel the game of Kho-Kho in countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and others.
Kho-Kho has since grown from strength to strength, especially in the South Asian countries but it has failed to strengthen its hold in other regions. As a sport, Kho-Kho is still in its early stages and it remains to be seen whether it would succeed in catching the imagination of the Europeans, Americans and others like it has amongst the South Asian countries.