Puri: The Mahaveer Jayanti was celebrated with devotion at several Jaga Gharas, traditional gymnasiums, in the Holy City here, Saturday.
Members of these traditional gyms displayed their skills in wrestling and martial arts to mark the occasion. Hundreds of wrestlers and martial artistes showcased their expertise after offering prayers before Lord Jagannath and Mahaveer Hanuman. Many young boys enrolled themselves in the traditional gyms to learn basics of wrestling, bodybuilding and other forms of martial arts.
“Mahaveer Hanuman is the symbol of valour and strength. Wrestlers offer puja on the occasion of Mahaveer Jayanti to achieve excellence. Young boys also enrol themselves in various Jaga Gharas in the Holy City on the occasion to learn wrestling and other martial arts,” said a religious scholar.
Researchers claim that the Gajapati kings of Odisha had set up and patronised at least 50 Jaga Gharas in the Pilgrim City to train local youths on the various aspects of warfare. The wrestlers and warfare experts of these traditional gyms had played a key role to defend Srimandir, the abode of Lord Jagannath, during attacks from hostile elements.
Even today, many of the traditional gyms offer warfare training to youths even though the state government and police have taken up the responsibility to protect Srimandir. All the Jaga Gharas have their traditional equipment to train youngsters in wrestling, bodybuilding and martial arts.
“People and wrestlers associated with Jaga Gharas usually worship Lord Hanuman, who had not faced any defeat as per the Hindu religious texts. One has to lead a disciplined life to become a good wrestler,” said eminent researcher Surendra Kumar Mishra.
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