I was looking up details on the food wrestlers eat [in India], and came across a fascinating book, The Wrestlers Body, by Joseph Alter.
This was published in 1992, so it doesn’t include the female wrestlers, and the recent movies, Sultan or Dangal, but it explores all aspects of a wrestler’s life in an akhara.
What do they eat? Most are vegetarian. Ghee, almonds, and milk are essential along with normal vegetarian food. No alcohol or tobacco, no drugs. No sex, they are supposed to be celibate. There are a lot of guidelines on how they should maintain this.
Their daily routine, worship of Hanuman, celebration of Nag Panchami, and a lot more is part of this book.
‘This is a study of wrestling as a system of meaning, and it must be made clear at the outset that I have not undertaken to study the technical aspects of the sport.’ says the author in his preface.
There are chapters on the akhara, the guru-chela system, patrons, and the discipline a wrestler requires.
The book is well-researched. I am not interested in wrestling or outdoor sports, nevertheless I really appreciated the book, and its insights into the philosophy and spirituality behind a sport, and how it transforms the individual.
|Alter, Joseph S. The Wrestler’s Body: Identity and Ideology in North India. Berkeley: University of California Press, c1992 1992. http://ark.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/ft6n39p104/|