‘Dangal’ popularized the fact that “Choriyan choron se kam nahin hai”. When it comes to wrestling, the common belief has been that it is a male-only sport. But like any other sport, the Phogat sisters and many others proved that women, too, are as good as men in winning medals – maybe better.
Now an akhara (wrestling arena) in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi broke away from its over 450-year-old tradition of not admitting girls. The Goswami Tulsidas Akhara gave permission to two female wrestlers – Nandini Sarkar and Astha Verma – to wrestle.
— RAHUL SRIVASTAV (@upcoprahul) October 8, 2017
According to the Times of India, the two girls had been trying to convince the mahant of the akhara to let them train in the arena. The 20-year-olds are studying for their bachelor degrees.
The report says that it was only after the mahant was convinced of their dedication to the sport that he allowed them to spar in the traditional ring. The mahant, Vishambhar Nath Mishra, is also a professor of electronics at IIT-BHU.
Starting this Diwali, the akhara will organize bouts featuring the girls. The akhara has already started letting female wrestlers practise in the ring. And the two girls are not the only ones.
News18 reported on September 27 that 12 female wrestlers wrestled in the ring of the akhara on the occasion of Nag Panchami.
They were allowed inside the akhara on August 15. The girls had entered the arena with a cry of “Jai Shree Ram”.
Like traditional akharas, the wrestlers of the Tulsidas Akharas are staunch believers of lord Hanuman who is considered celibate in Hindu religion. This is why many akharas do not allow girls to train.
“Our coaches, Surendra Yadav and Gorakhnath Yadav, approached the mahant this year and convinced him that if the country can have a Prime Minister representing Varanasi for the first time, why can’t women achieve a first of their own?” one of the girls told TOI.