Locals at Varanasi are quite familiar with the 478-year-old Swaminath Akhada which is located at Tulsi Ghat. The Akhada, every year organises wrestling matches on occasion of Nagpanchmi. This year too it happened, however, what was different this time was that women wrestlers were too allowed to participate and show their skills. And, Aamir Khan starer ‘Dangal’ has a huge role to play in it.
Other than the movie, the credit for breaking the stereotype also goes to Dr Vishambhar Nath Mishra who is a professor and mahant of the Sankatmochan temple in Varanasi in breaking the stereotype. Brother of Dr Vijaya Nath Mishra said, “Our home in Varanasi is the place where Rani Laxmibai was born. By opening the ancient akhada for women wrestlers, we wish to encourage girls to take forward the Laxmibai’s valour and courage”.
More than a dozen girls participated in the wrestling matches. Girls from Varanasi as well as from the other neigbouring districts of UP participated in the contest which took place at Tulsi Ghat. The ghat was named after a famous poet Tulsidas. It is believed that it is he who started the dangal on the banks of river Ganga. And ever since the akhada organises the wrestling match. The akhada has also given wrestlers like Kallu Pehlwan to the country.
10-year-old, Palak Yadav who is among the winners in the wrestling competition said, “It was amazing to wrestle at the place where my grand father Kallu Pahlwan and his pupils practised for years”. Yadav is among the many girls from UP who took up wrestling after watching the movie Dangal.