Gatka, a traditional Sikh martial art, has transcended regional boundaries to garner nationwide interest and participation. The 11th National Gatka Championship, which commenced today in the national capital, showcases the growing enthusiasm for this ancient martial art form, with more than 800 participants hailing from 14 states across India.
Traditionally popular in North Indian states such as Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Delhi, Haryana, Uttarakhand, and Rajasthan, Gatka has now captivated martial artists from diverse regions including Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka. Notably, Andhra Pradesh has sent 58 participants, while Telangana and Karnataka are represented by 51 and 12 players, respectively.
For those unfamiliar with Gatka, it’s essential to understand the significance of wearing a ‘patka’ while participating in the sport. Diwan, the caretaker for the Andhra Pradesh team, emphasized, “Patka is an integral part of the sport. Without it, a player cannot enter the mat.” This underlines the rich cultural and spiritual elements interwoven with Gatka, making it not just a martial art but a deeply rooted tradition.
The allure of Gatka extends beyond its cultural and historical aspects. For 18-year-old Jagjeet Singh from the Delhi team, the sport became an influential force after witnessing competitions in East Delhi. This speaks to the power of sports in captivating and inspiring the younger generation.
The 11th National Gatka Championship is taking place at the renowned Talkatora Stadium and is organized by the National Gatka Association of India in collaboration with the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC). The event was inaugurated by Manjinder Singh Sirsa, former chief of DSGMC and national secretary of the BJP.
The championship encompasses various categories of competitions, attracting participants with varying levels of expertise. More than just a showcase of skill and technique, this tournament in Delhi holds a significant role as it will serve as a selection camp for the national team. The association is keen on identifying and nurturing the best talent in preparation for the first Asian Gatka Championship in 2024 and the prestigious World Gatka Championship scheduled for 2025 in Washington.
The increasing interest in Gatka from regions far and wide across India underscores the universal appeal of traditional martial arts. It not only preserves cultural heritage but also serves as a platform for the nation’s youth to showcase their talent and compete at the global level. As Gatka continues to break regional boundaries, it becomes a symbol of unity and diversity in the world of sports.