Dangal , a word that many non-Hindi speaking citizens might be getting increasingly accustomed to after the poster release of Aamir Khan’s next film . But one might still find oneself asking what exactly a dangal is. It is a traditional wrestling tournament, more popularly known as kushti .
Dangal is a tournament mostly for men and by men, with no women participating in the entire competition. Even the audience comprises men only – of every stature, from politicians to boys in their early teenage years.
But as The Indian Express reports, there is someone who is breaking every “masculine hierarchy” attached to these tournaments. Meet Divya Kakran, a 17-year-old girl who has been wrestling boys her age, and winning
For years now, this particular dangal has been organised by the residents of Salawa village in Uttar Pradesh. Around 10,000 spectators come to watch the matches from the 24 villages nearby, commonly referred to as chaubisi .
It must be mentioned that Divya is not the first female wrestler in the country. Chandgi Ram, a decorated wrestler himself, introduced his daughters to this sport in the 1990s, the Phogat sisters Geeta and Babita started their Olympic-style freestyling wrestling from dangals and they all wrestled other women.
But Divya Kakran is slightly different. She is popular for challenging and defeating men. “Many girls have taken part in dangals. I have seen a few challenge men. But those were one-off cases. None of them have fought in as many dangals as Divya. Fighting boys isn’t just a gimmick for her. She beats them all,” says accountant Deepak Anusiya Prasad to The Indian Express.
“There are medals stuck to each other like a hoard of coins, trophies of all shapes, and a pair of silver-plated maces”, the Indian Express reports.
One could even look up videos of Divya’s matches with men on YouTube. It all mostly ends in a similar fashion, her opponent pinned and flat on the ground. But her journey to the peak has not been an easy one.
As a child she was continuously “banished to the side of the akhara ” and was only “tolerated because she was too young”. Her brother fought and she didn’t because dangals were not very welcoming of women. But everyone took notice and realised her potential when she defeated her first male opponent.
There has been no looking back since then. She has proven her mettle to the villagers and deserves to be recognised for her ability.
Watch Divya Kakran in action here (original video by The Indian Express)