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Art & Culture

Ancient wrestling offers a future for some in modern India

Indian Kushti wrestlers wait for their turn to practice rope climbing, during their daily training in Haryana, India. (AP)
BAHADURGARH: Wearing nothing but loincloths, a group of boys warm up by climbing sturdy ropes that take them high into the trees. One teenager walks around the wrestling pit swirling incense, blessing the arena and preparing it for battle.
These devotees of kushti wrestling have made a commitment that extends beyond the hours they spend practicing each morning and evening. They live an ascetic lifestyle, not eating meat and refraining from smoking, drinking and dating.
Like many traditions in a country that’s rapidly modernizing, kushti wrestling faces the threat of being left behind. But for many poor families, wrestling provides a glimmer of hope. Those who succeed can earn money, respect in their communities and even particular jobs. They’re often employed by the police force or India’s railways.

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