While all major sportspersons have their own set of superstitions and beliefs, idol worship and a formal aarti have almost been institutionalized in kabaddi. In no other game, would you come across the support staff and players together engaging in such a ritual.
Here, before a practice session, the Dabang Delhi players were seen offering their prayers, lighting candles and incense sticks and breaking coconut, a sign of goodwill. They then went on to chant hymns and gathered in a huddle to make it a visual spectacle for the sparse crowd present at the venue.
Beyond the court, as they acknowledged, it helps them to keep a steely resolve and maintain their focus. The team, apparently, makes it a point to follow this, even if they are practicing well before the league kicks off. When asked about its importance, assistant coach Arjun Singh emphasized that coconuts are a part of every big occasion because it is also associated with Lord Ganesha. Hence, they always break a coconut so that they can please him, the remover of all obstacles.
“We consider the mat to be our deity”
Nizampur’s Amit Singh Chillar, who seemed to be most engrossed in the ritual said, “We consider the mat (the mat on which kabaddi is played) to be our deity. Even when we are back home we follow the same rituals but when we chant the Gayatri Mantra together before our match. There is something very profound about it that fills you with determination and makes you believe in yourself.”
It is a delight to watch the team on Tuesdays, asserted the PR team who see them ply their trade day in and day out. Before they start their practice they assemble in front of the mat and worship Lord Hanuman. The team contributes as much money they can and sweets are specially bought which are first offered to God and then distributed amongst the rest.
Just like the city, the franchisee is a mix of diverse cultures, with players coming from different cultures, worshiping different deities but that seems to be hardly a deterrent. Interestingly, I was told, the foreign players, even though do not understand the language, pray along with the rest of the team. The locals have helped them understand the symbolism of such rituals and the sensitivity it holds. They are happy to be a part of the process and participate with equal zest.
Thus, it goes without saying that if ever there was a need for the gods to intervene during the league, the Dabangs have ensured they will be best served!Published 16 Jul 2015, 19:29 IST