5 sports which you did not know originated in India

Snooker was played by the British Army in India
Sagnik Kundu

Several important things have been invented in India and the country's contribution in the field of sports cannot be undermined. A rich tradition of games and sports has been omnipresent in India since the ancient times. The tradition has been passed on through generations breaking the barriers of social divisions.

Various games which are now popular all around the world owe their origins in India. While many know that Kabaddi had its origin in India, not many know what other sports had their roots in Indian soil. These games transmitted to foreign countries from here, before they underwent further modification.

The spirit of sportsmanship in India can be dated back to the ancient era and Indians have always been enthusiastic when it comes to sport. The country has excelled in most of the different sports throughout time.

Here is a compilation of five sports which you did not know originated in India.

#5 Snooker

The modern form of snooker originated in the late 19th century. The British Army officers stationed in India played billiards regularly, and the game was improvised by them around that time.

During 1874 or 1875, a variation of the game using coloured balls in addition to the reds and black were used for pyramid pool and life pool at the officer’s mess in Jabalpur. Soon, in 1884, Sir Neville Chamberlain first formally finalised the rules of the game in Ooty, an Indian hill-station.

The name ‘snooker’ is also directly derived from military colloquial ‘snooker’, which was a slang used for first-year cadets and inexperienced personnel. The popularity of the sport grew in proportions in England although it was primarily known as a gentleman’s game.

In India, Pankaj Advani, who is the first player who won both the points format and the time format titles in the World Billiards Championship in the year 2005, has been the pioneer of the sport in the recent years.

#4 Polo

Polo players from Manipur in India in 1885

It is said that India set the base for modern polo. Mughal emperor Babur had popularised the sport during the 15th century, and later Britishers played their part in globalising the sport. Polo was played initially only in Manipur and Jammu & Kashmir while a different version of the sport which involved elephants was played in the subcontinent of southern Asia.

Elephants were a symbol of the strength of the ancient monarchs in India and naturally, elephant polo was the "King of Sports." Cheitharol Kumbaba gives an account in The Royal Chronicle of Manipur of a Polo game being played among the friends of Ngonda Lairen Pakhangba, who had ascended the throne of Manipur in 33 AD.

The British colonists came to know about the magnificent game in the 19th century. In 1869 the game was first introduced in Great Britain and the first international match was played between the United States of America and England in 1886.

The popularity of the sport in India has risen and fallen over the years, but it never lost its regal status. The sport has been resurrected in the country through the emergence of privately owned teams in the past few years.

#3 Judo and Karate

Karate is a modified version of ancient Indian martial art form Kalaripayate

It has been claimed that the origin of Judo and Karate lie in ancient India. Ancient India claims to have been the origin of Judo and Karate. In pre-medieval India, a sport similar to karate was present and it was called kalarippayattu.

This martial arts form seems to have travelled from India to the far-east simultaneously with Buddhism. The monks journeyed barefoot and unarmed throughout the world to spread the gospels of the religion and accepted this form of self-defence. Although they made a few modifications to suffice to their philosophy of non-violence. However, unlike kalarippayattu, judo and karate do not allow the use of any weapons.

Traditionally, respect is commanded by the sensei from his students of judo or karate. This aspect could have its roots in the Guru-Shishya tradition that has been present in India since ancient times. It is quite possible that these forms of martial arts originated in the southern parts of the country and was transmitted to China, Korea and Japan by Buddhist monks.However, today the world considers Judo and Karate to be a legacy bequeathed by the countries of the far-east.

#2 Chess

The earliest form of chess could be traced back to India

The history of chess can be dated back nearly 1500 years and the earliest predecessor of the game could be traced back to India. A precursor of the modern chess was called the 'chaturanga' which was very popular in India in the 6th century. Findings from the archaeological sites of Harappa and Mohenjodaro also suggest that board games similar to chess were familiar in the Indus Valley civilisation.

There are also theories that the game was called Ashtapada which in Sanskrit denotes a spider. The game was played with a dice on an 8x8 checkered board. The gambling and dice aspects of the game were removed because of religious objections. Persians and Arabians travelling to ancient India picked up the game of chess and thereafter it spread globally.

The sport's popularity has recently blown up especially after the success of chess Grandmaster and former World Champion Viswanathan Anand. India has a total of 37 Grandmasters in chess.

#1 Badminton

A group of people playing badminton, possibly in India, in 1885

A descendant of battledore and shuttlecock, the game of badminton has its roots in ancient Greece over 200 years ago. However, the modern version of the game originated in India mostly. Since its introduction in the medieval times, the sport became immensely popular in India.

British Army officers who were posted in Pune in the early 19th century, were the first pioneers of the modern version of the game. As Pune was previously called Poona, the name of the game was also given as Poona, and the British played it competitively.

By the 1870s, the British had mastered the game while living in India and decided to take the equipment back to their homeland in a bid to introduce the sport in Europe. In 1873, a lawn party was hosted by the Duke of Beaufort in a place called Badminton in England.

‘Poona’ was played by those present at the party throughout the day and they enjoyed it immensely.It was only after this day that the sport was christened ‘Badminton’ after the name of the place and came to be known as party sport or more popularly, "the Badminton game".

Currently, the country is going through the golden era of badminton, with the likes of Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth, etc., winning several accolades for the country.

Edited by Staff Editor


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