120-year-old traditional sport still played in Himachal

Shimla: A 120-year-old unique sport, locally called 'Thoda' that relies on one's archery prowess with the use of bows and arrows, is still played in Himachal Pradesh.

It's played during the two-day 'Anokhi Dali' (a unique tree in local dialect) fair that falls every year exactly a month post Diwali in Jubbarhatti area located on the fringes of the state capital Shimla.

Also the fair spreads awareness on environmental protection.

This time the fair culminated on Thursday where Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur was the chief guest.

Old-timers recall that the fair was organised in the honour of tree species 'Anokhi Dali' belonging to olive family.

On the direction of Narsingh avatar or the fourth Dashavatara of Lord Vishnu to a local priest in his dreams, the sport 'Thoda' was promoted, said local resident C.D. Verma.

The name 'Thoda' has been derived from the round block of wood that is fixed ahead of the arrow to blunt it.

The archers are divided into two teams, supposed to be representing Kauravas and Pandavas, hit each other below the knees.

Also the fair saw wrestling competitions. Stalls of traditional earthenware were specially put up by local potters.

"The fairs and festivals are the integral part of our rich cultural repository and provide wholehearted entertainment to the people of the area," Thakur said while addressing people on the closing ceremony of 'Anokhi Dali' fair.

He said in this present era of cut-throat competition, it was vital to conserve and preserve the rich and diverse cultural diversity for the generations to come. He said it was also important that we do not forget our culture in the modern age.

Local MLA Vikramaditya Singh welcomed the Chief Minister to his home constituency and raised developmental demands of the area.

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