Traditional Indian sport of langdi could see 'achche din' soon
Some decades ago, langdi, like kho kho, was a popular game played by children in western India.
News23 Mar 2016, 10:04 IST
It was perhaps around 60 years ago, says Rama Kerkar, a 66-year-old housewife from Mapusa, that she last played landgi with her friends and neighbours.
"We hardly had television at the time. Friends and neighbours would gather in the evenings. We would split ourselves into two groups. Every two minutes, one person from each group would chase the rest by hopping and running after our opponents on one foot. It was tiring, but there was so much thrill," Kerkar recalls.
Langdi, she rues, has all but disappeared from the fun radar of children today, who are more obsessed with either mainstream sports like cricket, football or mobile and computer-based games.
But if one goes by the newly nominated president of the Asian Langdi Federation and Goa's sports minister Ramesh Tawadkar, traditional Indian sports like langdi, which was once extremely popular in western India, may still have hope.
Tawadkar claims that the langdi is being pushed as a preparatory sport for young footballers in Europe and could well see 'aachche din' in the coming years.
"The BJP government both in Goa and the centre is committed to promoting more than 50 traditional Indian sports which are slowly disappearing or fading from public memory. Langdi is one of those sports. The federation plans to make langdi not just popular in Goa and India, but in the rest of Asia too. It is an exciting and energetic sport and helps development of leg muscles and body balance," Tawadkar told IANS on Tuesday.
Some decades ago, langdi, like kho kho, was a popular game played by children in western India, especially in states like Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka, where members of two teams would run and tag opponents while hopping on one leg.
Interestingly, the Mumbai University introduced langdi as a sport at the college level two years ago to encourage fitness amongst its students.
Tawadkar claims that awareness about the sport is also being created in other South Asian and South East Asian countries, where the sport was known to have a presence in the past.
"As part of the federation's brief, we are promoting the game in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Singapore, Bhutan, Pakistan, Malaysia," Tawadkar said.
Langdi, says Tawadkar, also has the capability to ease stability of movement and strengthen leg muscles, which is why the promoters of the sport were trying to popularise it amongst young footballers in Germany. "We are making efforts to promote it among football players as a base game," Tawadkar said.
The federation, the sports minister said, would be hosting the second edition of the Asian Langdi Competition, which is scheduled to be organised in Sri Lanka in August. The first Asian Langdi competition was held in Thailand last year.
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Langdi is a traditional Indian field sport played in Pandiyan Dynasty called "Nondiyaattam" , similar to hopscotch. It is described by Marathis as a sport with a Marathi ethos.
Efforts to popularise the sport
Langdi is considered to be useful in training for sports like kho kho, volleyball and gymnastics. The National Langdi Federation received national recognition in 2010. Langdi in Maharashtra is a popular childhood pastime, it is described as the foundation of all sports. Suresh Gandhi, Secretary of Langdi Federation of India acknowledges playing langdi isn't financially rewarding. Stake holders have to arrange for funds out of their own resources.Mumbai University will be the first Indian university to introduce langdi at the college level, for female students thus revitalising the traditional sport. 5 lakh female students study in the university in 700 colleges affiliated to it. C. N. Vidyamandir a school in Ahmedabad encourages participation in traditional sports such as langdi, these cost less money to play and are mentally and physically refreshing for children addicted to the electronic media and games. According to Mahesh Vichare writing in Maharashtra Times, English medium schools, both secular and those run by Christian institutions, in Mumbai, tend to neglect traditional sports like langdi.Chetan Chauhan, national president of Krida Bharati, has stressed that the organisation would endeavour to revitalise traditional sports like langdi in order to create healthy youngsters. Krida bharati is an organisation that promotes sport in India. According to Arun Deshmukh, recognition from the Indian Olympic Association is in the pipeline. This recognition results in facilities like concessional railway travel being made available, thus ensuring in growth of the sport.
Expatriate Indians have associated in the effort to popularise langdi out side, in countries such as Thailand. Video films of the sport being played have been prepared in order raise interest internationally.
The rules of this sport have been standardised by the Akhil Maharashtra Sharirik Shikshan Mandal.
Langdi is a team sport between two sides, played 12 players a side, and an additional three extra players. A match lasts 36 minutes. It is played in four innings of nine minutes each. The team that wins the toss defends. The chasing team sends chasers who hop on one foot and try to tag the defenders. The chasers can step out of the ground as long as they keep on one foot. The defenders are declared out if they step out of the ground or commit a line fault. The team that tags most defenders is declared the winner.
The fourth National Men's and Women's Langdi Championship was held in Chandigarh, in May 2013.
Devasitham is the Indian captain for Langdi. He represented India in Asian and South Asian Tournaments & Won many accolades. Under his leadership, India won the Singapore Tournament held in November,2017.