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Traditional wrestling continues as a Friday match in Kabul

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Afghan men wrestle in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, December 3, 2021. The scene takes place each week after Friday prayers in the large central Chaman-e-Huzori park. the city of Kabul, where men are concentrated, mainly from the northern provinces of Afghanistan. to watch and compete in pahlawani, a traditional form of wrestling. (AP Photo / Petros Giannakouris)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Through billowing clouds of dust, two men circled cautiously before one lunged forward, grabbed the other’s clothes and, after a brief struggle, skillfully brought him to the ground.

The crowd, forming a circle around them, some sitting on the ground, others standing or climbing onto the backs of rickshaws for a better view in a park in the Afghan capital, erupted into cheers. . Victor and the defeated smiled kindly, embracing each other for a moment before some in the audience pressed banknotes into the winner’s hand.

The scene takes place each week after Friday prayers in the vast Chaman-e-Huzori park in downtown Kabul, where men – mainly from Afghanistan’s northern provinces – gather to watch and compete in pahlawani, a traditional form of wrestling.

Although the Taliban, who occupied Afghanistan in mid-August, had previously banned the sport when they ruled the country in the 1990s, pahlawani was exempt even then. Now, just over three months since they ruled the new country, a handful of Taliban policemen attended Friday’s matches as security guards.

Matches are simple affairs. There was no arena other than the large circle made up of spectators. The competitors, barefoot in the dust, all wore the same tunics, one blue and one white, which were passed from athlete to athlete for each match. Each player represents his or her province, with the name and province announced to the audience by the referee.

Each match has four rounds, and the winner is the first one who can flip his opponent face up. An umpire runs, while the crowd umpires give their verdict in the absence of a clear winner. Many people end up in relationships.

“We provide this facility so that our people can enjoy a little something,” said Juma Khan, a 58-year-old judge and deputy director of the event last Friday. By day, a security guard at a market, a former wrestler who has been a judge in competitions for the past 12 years, he said. Just like his father, and his grandfather, and his great-grandfather before him. “That’s our culture.”

Most athletes and spectators spend two to three months in the Afghan capital working – as manual laborers or in hotels, restaurants and markets – before returning home to their families. them in a few weeks.

Pahlawani offers a few hours of much-anticipated entertainment. The men gather in the dusty field of Chaman-e-Huzori park around 2 p.m. every Friday and stay until sunset, with about 10 to 20 young men ahead from the crowd. crowded to compete.

Then, as the sun sets behind the Tapai Maranjan hill in the background, the competitions are over. In the blink of an eye, as dust billowed around the speeding trailers, their horns blaring, the crowds would be gone in a week.

https://www.yourbasin.com/news/traditional-wrestling-continues-as-a-friday-fixture-in-kabul/ Traditional wrestling continues as a Friday match in Kabul

PaulLeBlanc

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