Download e-book for kindle: The Wrestler's Body: Identity and Ideology in North India by Joseph S. Alter

By Joseph S. Alter

The Wrestler's physique tells the tale of a lifestyle geared up by way of actual self-development. whereas Indian wrestlers are aggressive athletes, also they are ethical reformers whose notion of self and society is essentially somatic. utilizing the insights of anthropology, Joseph regulate writes an ethnography of the wrestler's body that elucidates the somatic constitution of the wrestler's id and ideology.Young males in North India could decide to subscribe to an akhara, or fitness center, the place they topic themselves to a posh software of actual and ethical health. Alter's first-hand description of every element of the wrestler's routine deals a distinct point of view on South Asian tradition and society. Wrestlers believe that ethical reform of Indian nationwide personality is key and suggest their lifestyle as an ideology of nationwide overall healthiness. everyone seems to be referred to as directly to develop into a wrestler and construct collective power via strength of mind.

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A wrestler must urinate before bathing in order to relieve the body’s inner heat. I was often caught out on this fine point of keeping fit as wrestlers at Akhara Ram Singh kept a more watchful eye on my movements than I was apt to do myself. On a few occasions I witnessed other wrestlers who, on the verge of bathing, suddenly realized that they had not yet urinated. They would quickly retire to a nearby wall, set things right, and thereby ensure better health. The whole body is anointed with mustard oil after bathing.

The use of oil at a bath causes the oil to penetrate into the system through the mouths of the arteries, veins of the body, as [sic] also the roots of the hair, and thus soothes and invigorates the body with its own essence (ibid: 676). Wrestlers are enjoined to shave and cut their nails regularly. As Mujumdar notes, this leads to the “expiation of one’s sins, makes a man cheerful, and tends to appease his fate, increase his energy and impart a lightness to his frame” (ibid: 678). Clearly here there is a dramatic intersection of somatic practices, personality traits, auspiciousness, and karmic 36 balance.

In the wrestler’s mind there is only a very vague line, if any, between the health and ritual dimension of the morning bath. Religious qualities are somatically coded, and if one is impure, one is also unhealthy. 35 Physical training is the focal point of a wrestler’s daily routine and will be considered in detail in a later chapter. In outline, however, a wrestler starts his regime by running a few kilometers. He then digs the pit and wrestles with a number of partners. The routine concludes with a series of gymnastic and aerobic exercises.

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