Sunday, December 25, 2016

KUSHTI, The Art of wrestling - Dubai

Every Friday before sunset, a few hundred spectators gather around a small obscure dirt field, close to the Hyatt Recency hotel to watch a traditional Indian-Pakistani wrestling competition called Kushti. 

Now going back more than 3000 years, Kushti fighters from India, Pakistan and Iran have traditionally been sticking strictly to training programs and are expected to live a pure life where diet is strictly controlled to maximize muscle; smoking, drinking alcohol and sex are banned. 

As the sun starts dipping behind the neighboring Hyatt hotel in Deira, more and more mainly Pakistani expats, start gathering while organizers clear stones and other sharp objects for the upcoming action. Water is being sprayed to give the sand a harder consistency. 

At the start of every round, fighters cover each others back and chest with sand.

About one hour before sunset the competition sets off with about 6 to 8 pairs of fighters, dressed with colorful wrestling underpants taking to the sand pit. A fight only lasts a matter of minutes, with the final aim being to bring down the opponent on his back. 

The referee, and older gentleman and ex-wrestler, carries a colorful pole around; remaining clearly in charge of it all!

After each individual round, the winner walks around the ring to collect some tips; make sure to bring some small money if you really like to blend in well!

Although we couldn't understand a word which was said, it looks like there were rounds for different weight classes.

Being the only Westerner around, both my wife and myself felt a bit like being a stranger in our own city. Having said this, we did feel very welcome with people taking selfies with us in the background.
  Exactly when the Maghrib (just after sunset) prayer was heard from the first mosque nearby, was when it was all over! 

Whenever my day job as an airline pilot allows me, I will definitively be back for more one of one of the next Fridays. Planning on bringing some printed copies of the images, I can already see how grateful there people will be... 

Meanwhile, if you want to check out the entire gallery of my "Kushti, the Art of wrestling" gallery, click here. 

If you are however interested in more of the beaten track events in the UAE, make sure to also go to the Bull butting contest in Fujeirah every Friday. Click here for more. 


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