Thursday, February 12, 2009

In Memory of Tantiya Bhil

The second annual Tantiya Mama Kabbadi Tournament was hosted by Adharshila last Sunday. Eight teams of adults from surrounding villages (including one from Adharshila) battled in the dust in three rounds to select the best. The winning team from Sawarda village won the first prize of Rs.2000/- and the Devli team got the second prize of Rs.1000/- .

Kabbadi's traces its long history back to royal armies that used the game to encourage unity and sportsmanship. Last year we agreed that those ideals were as relevant in our area today as at any time in history, and decided the tournament should be launched. Students were responsible for every aspect of the tournament's success, from organizing teams over a large area, to printing posters and, of course, cheering loudly. The tournament opened with the older children singing traditional songs while some of the younger children performed the legime dance from Maharashra. In the Tantiya tradition of slights of hand, two of the children even juggled.

Tantiya Bhil, or Tantiya Mama as he is better known around here, was a Bhil tribal leader from Neemar in the western parts of Madhya Pradesh who audaciously fought the British occupation of the area until he was finally captured and killed. Notorious for outwitting the officials behind him with disguises and mischief, Tantiya still lives on in legend. Tantiya is also known as the Indian Robin Hood for his habit of helping the poor with the loot of the rich.

The day was good in other ways too. The same evening our cow gave birth to a beautiful white calf. The children promptly named it Tantiya.