Rubbing with Earth
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Those two pelhwans (Indian wrestlers) are standing at the entrance of the little akhara (gymnasia) which is lost in the fields near Sakalhida, a village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
It was in winter, early in the morning before sunrise.
“After exercising, a wrestler rubs his body with the earth of the akhara to dry his perspiration.
This prevents his body from cooling too rapidly, and thus guards against illness.
While resting, he is rubbed down.
As the earth dries on his skin it is scraped off by other wrestlers.
By the time the earth is scraped, the body is cool enough for the wrestler to bathe.
It is vitally important that a person not bathe while still hot, for this will inevitably enrage the body and cause serious illness.
A wrestler must urinate before bathing in order to relieve the body’s inner heat”.
(“The Wrestler’s Body: Identity and Ideology in North India” by Joseph S. Alter)
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