Rural Olympics

Every year, the northern state of Punjab in India hosts the Kila Raipur Sports Festival, popularly known as the Rural Olympics. First held in 1933, this three-day event was originally conceptualised as an opportunity for the farmers in surrounding villages to demonstrate their strength and stamina. Traditional sports like athletics, hockey and weight-lifting are accompanied by rural sporting activities like bullock-cart racing, horseback acrobatics and the local sport kabaddi. The games are open to the public, with participants ranging from young boys to veterans, many of which include nihangs—armed warriors who have a crucial place in Sikh military history. In a special section of the games, they display their strength through sword-fighting and riding. Animals, as an inextricable part of rural life, also feature prominently in the games, with participants bringing their prized dog breeds on show for the dog races.