Archive for kushti

Feeling Strength

Posted in Pehlwans from Benaras with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2013 by designldg

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“You feel your strength in the experience of pain.”
(Jim Morrison – American singer-songwriter and poet, 1943-1971)

Like many men in Varanasi (Benaras) this pehlwan (Indian wrestler) comes to an akhara every morning at dawn or before sunset in order to perform his daily physical training routine.
For this training they use heavy club-lifting like “gadas”which are a way of testing strength and balance.
The mace is associated to the Indian god of strength, Hanuman, who is almost never depicted without one.

This is a new picture from a series of 16 published in the new issue of Mascular Magazine (from page 136 to page 145 ),
www.mascular.co.uk/Magazine/Issue4.Winter2013/Mascular4
(When opening this magazine be aware that there are a few pictures with “explicit content” there)

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© All photographs are copyrighted and all rights reserved.
Please do not use any photographs without permission (even for private use).
The use of any work without consent of the artist is PROHIBITED and will lead automatically to consequences.

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Sunrise’s reflection upon a cross

Posted in Pehlwans from Benaras with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2009 by designldg

© All photographs are copyrighted and all rights reserved.
Please do not use any photographs without permission (even for private use).
The use of any work without consent of the artist is PROHIBITED and will lead automatically to consequences.

“The oldest living city in the world”.

This is a portrait of Vinod who is a “pehlwan” (wrestler in Hindi) who exercises in a small gym club near Scindia Ghat along river Ganga in Varanasi (Benaras).
A few meters down there, Vinod has a little “shop” where he is selling pan, thea, water and sweets.

I shot this image while he was having an Ayurvedic Massage performed by his friend Pritviraj which is part of a pehlwan’s training.
It was early in the morning at sunrise and the sun is reflecting upon the cross he is wearing.
Vinod is Hindu however Christian crosses are actually becoming trendy accessories among the indian youth.

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Building an Iconic Body

Posted in Pehlwans & Gurus with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2009 by designldg
© All photographs are copyrighted and all rights reserved.
Please do not use any photographs without permission (even for private use).
The use of any work without consent of the artist is PROHIBITED and will lead automatically to consequences.

This was shot inside the little akhara (gymnasia) which is lost in the fields near Sakalhida, a village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
This pelhwan (Indian wrestler) was practising with joris which are swung like gadas but they come in pairs weighing between ten and forty kilograms each.

Joris are often decorated with colorful designs, and many akharas have special pairs which are brought out only on such occasions as Nag Panchami and Guru Puja.
In contrast to gadas (weighted club used for exercise), joris are named the “white pair,” the “shiny ones,” the “thorny ones,” the “flowery ones,” the “mountainous ones” (many are named after a particular person who either made them, commissioned them to be made or swung them the most number of times).
While gadas have clear phallic qualities, joris symbolize breasts (recognizing, of course, that breast and phallic symbols are highly mutable and multivocal to the point of being almost interchangeable).
Not only do joris come in pairs, they are also swung from an inverted position with the wrestler holding firmly onto the titlike handle-grip as though he were milking a cow or buffalo.
If churning is the dominant metaphor of swinging a gada, milking is associated with swinging a pair of joris.
(“The Wrestler’s Body: Identity and Ideology in North India” by Joseph S. Alter)

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Time Is Very Short

Posted in Pehlwans & Gurus with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2009 by designldg

© All photographs are copyrighted and all rights reserved. 
Please do not use any photographs without permission (even for private use).
The use of any work without consent of the artist is PROHIBITED and will lead automatically to consequences.

A few pehlwans (Indian wrestlers) who were practicing their daily training accepted to pose inside the little akhara (gymnasia) which is lost in the fields near Sakalhida, a village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
It was early in the morning before sunrise in winter and it was still cold.
They are not used to have visitors but they were very friendly and they allowed me to stay for a while and to take as many pictures I wanted.
Those writings on the walls kept my attention as well, on the left it says “Don’t let time go, do something”, on the write “Time is very important” and on the back wall “Jai Shri Ram”.
But I was surprised to see that on the top there was a painting of Lord Shiva with “Om Namah Shivaya” (ॐ नमः शिवाय) written underneath.
This mantra is an adoration to Shiva however akharas are usually following Lord Hanuman so I asked my brother Manish if it was customary but he answered that I should not use my mind the way I do…;)

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The Utopian Vision

Posted in Pehlwans & Gurus with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2009 by designldg
© All photographs are copyrighted and all rights reserved. 
Please do not use any photographs without permission (even for private use).
The use of any work without consent of the artist is PROHIBITED and will lead automatically to consequences.

This picture was shot inside in a little akhara (gymnasia) lost in the fields near Sakalhida, a village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

Here pehlwans (Indian wrestlers) who have a rural life don’t have many visitors however they were very happy to meet me and they easily accepted to pose in front of my camera.
It might be because, unconsciously, in order to bring about the utopia envisioned and presaged by the ideology of wrestling, it is the moral duty of every wrestler to convert others to his chosen life path.

“It can be said that a wrestler is not a wrestler unless he makes others into wrestlers.
The wicked and the corrupt are quick to swell their ranks with converts, while the pure and honest sit back quietly.
Is goodness cowardly and shy? Is it selfish? It is essential that we put our lives behind goodness. Today! Now! . . .
A wrestler must have a missionary spirit.
He must be obsessed with the advancement of wrestling.
He must get excited about his art.
He must be interested in spreading the word throughout the nation.
He must make wrestling contagious; not as a disease, but as a way of life” (K. P. Singh).

“It is incumbent on every wrestler to read the poetics of this nationalism into the particular situation of his own life.
What this means is to be able to translate personal strength into national integrity, personal health into national well-being and self-control into national discipline”.
(“The Wrestler’s Body: Identity and Ideology in North India” by Joseph S. Alter)

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The Red Jiffy

Posted in Pehlwans & Gurus with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2009 by designldg

 

© All photographs are copyrighted and all rights reserved. 
Please do not use any photographs without permission (even for private use).
The use of any work without consent of the artist is PROHIBITED and will lead automatically to consequences.

This was shot on the road from Varanasi to Bodh Gaya and at a few miles before the border of Bihar in a little akhara (gymnasia) lost in the fields near Sakalhida, a village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
Those pehlwans (Indian wrestlers) are having are having a break during their training and they accepted that I took a few pictures.
All around there was still some heavy fog as It was early in the morning before sunrise.
The red fabric was contrasting with the colour hues of winter.
It was in a jiffy, just the time for this pehlwan to hold this red langot (Indian underwear) that he wanted to wear later at the time to go to work.
Most akharas are active at a very early hour so that after practice members can go to work or school.

 

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Rubbing with Earth

Posted in Pehlwans & Gurus with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2009 by designldg
© All photographs are copyrighted and all rights reserved. 
Please do not use any photographs without permission (even for private use).
The use of any work without consent of the artist is PROHIBITED and will lead automatically to consequences.

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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