Kabaddi Contest Enlivens
By Talat Sattar
Sunday, I attended the annual picnic of the Indus Valley Chamber
of Commerce and was pleasantly surprised to see a demonstration
of the exciting game of kabbadi by two local teams - California
Kabaddi and Union City Kabaddi. The keenly contested match
generated great interest as the Union City team won.
Parmjit Sandhu, coach of Union City Kabaddi, had more surprises
in store for me. Kabaddi, he claimed, was one of the most
popular games in the United States and besides desi players
it enjoyed the support of Caucasian and Afro-Asian enthusiasts
Kabaddi is a team sport that originated in South Asia. It
is popular throughout South Asia and Southeast Asia. It is
the national game of Bangladesh, and the state game of Punjab
and Andhra Pradesh in India. The words kabaddi, kabaddi, gamely
chanted during a game, derive from a Hindi word that means
"holding of breath", which is indeed a crucial aspect
In the contest, two teams of seven players each, occupy the
opposite halves of a field of 12.5m x 10m (roughly half the
size of a basketball court). Each team has five additional
players who are held in reserve. The game is divided into
two 20-minute halves, with a five-minute half-time break during
which the teams switch sides.
The teams take turns sending a "raider" across to
the opposite team's half, where the goal is to tag or wrestle
("capture") members of the opposite team before
returning to the home half. Tagged members are "out"
and are sent off the field. Traditionally, the raider was
not allowed to take a breath during the raid, and had to prove
this by constantly chanting during the raid.
Meanwhile, the defenders must form a chain, for example by
joining hands; if the chain is broken, a member of the defending
team is sent off. The goal of the defenders is to stop the
raider from returning to the home side before taking a breath.
If the raider takes a breath before returning to the home
side, the raider is out and is sent off the field.
A player can also get "out" by going over a boundary
line during the course of play or if any part of the player's
body touches the ground outside the boundary, except during
struggle with an opposing team member.
Each time a player is declared out, the opposing team earns
a point. A team scores a bonus of two points, called a lona,
if the entire opposing team is declared out. At the end of
the game, the team with more points is the winner.
The picnic was arranged by the Indus Valley Chamber of Commerce
in the oak-shaded Elk Grove Park. The well organized event
was attended by hundreds of community members from diverse
backgrounds. Colorful kameez shalwars were visible everywhere
in the park creating an Eid or Diwali like environment. Plenty
of parking was available and participants were offered a variety
of food free of charge.
The keynote speaker Honorable Dave Jones, (D-Sacramento),
who represents the 9th District in the California State Assembly,
thanked the chamber for inviting him to the event. California
is lucky to have people from Pakistan and India whose contribution
cannot be ignored, Dave Jones added. Commenting on the recent
hate crime incident in Sacramento in which a young Fijian
youth was killed by Russian immigrants, Dave Jones said that
such hate crimes will not be tolerated in California. Dave
Jones said that together we would make the State of California
better for every one living here. Jones chairs the Assembly
Judiciary Committee and serves on the standing committees
of the Assembly of Budget, Health, Agriculture, and Utilities
The event was followed by a volleyball tournament in which
several local teams participated.
The effort of Sarla and Sukhchain for arranging such a wonderful
event deserves to be duly acknowledged. Jimmy’s Indian
Restaurant also needs to be commended for providing free hot
cholay and bhaturas.