Lathi khela competition in Bangladesh
|Country of origin||Bangladesh|
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Lathi khela (Bengali: লাঠি খেলা) is a traditional Bangladeshi martial art which is a stick fighting practiced mainly in eastern India and throughout Bangladesh. A practitioner is known as a lathial.
The lathi is normally made of the male bamboo, and sometimes bound at short intervals with iron rings. A typical lathi measures 6 to 8-foot (2.4 m). Some are shorter and may be wielded like a baton or bludgeon. In the past, sticks could also be paired with shields, as can still be seen in nori bari (mock stick-fight) demonstrations.
Stick fighting has a ancient history in South Asia, tracing back to the region's aboriginal inhabitants. Rich farmers and other eminent people hire lathial for security and as a symbol of their power. Duels were used as a way to protect or steal land, among various other possessions, and a proverb said in various South Asian languages states that "whomever wields the lathi keeps the cow". During zamindar time groups of lathial were sent to forcefully collect taxes from villagers. Lathi training was at one time even included in the Bratachari system of education.
Although lathi continues to be practiced in Indian and Bangladeshi villages, urbanisation has led to its decline as a rural martial art in recent decades. Until 1989, an annual nationwide lathi khela convention was held in Kushtia, Bangladesh, where troupes from all over the country took part. Due to the drop in practitioners and spectators, the convention is now only held once every three years. Even in the districts where lathi troupes once flourished, only several now remain. Today, lathi khela is most often seen during festivals and weddings. Matches are held in West Bengal for certain puja rituals, and a similar sport called chamdi is played during Eid in North Bengal.
Lathial group performed various acts like Baoi Jhak (group fight), Nori Bari (mock fight with sticks), Fala Khela and Dao Khela (mock fight with sharp weapons) and Chhuri dance to music, in the presence of hundreds. These groups may also learn the arts of dao khela (knife fighting) and fara khela (sword fighting), both of which are preserved today in the form of mock-fights. Matches are generally one-on-one, but the art also includes mock-group fights or baoi jhak. In lathi the center of energy is the heart chakra, and practitioners fight in a more upright position.
Lathi khela in present day
The popularity of Lathi Khela is waning. Practice of this art form throughout the country can increase its popularity as well as ensure its existence.
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- Lathial, from Banglapedia.
- ঈদ উৎসবের নানা রং,সাইমন জাকারিয়া, দৈনিক প্রথম আলো। ঢাকা থেকে প্রকাশের তারিখ: আগস্ট ০২, ২০১৩
- "Lathi Khela to celebrate Tangail Free Day". dhakamirror.com. December 13, 2011. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
- "Two-day long traditional Lathi Khela ended in Kushtia". thekushtiatimes.com. December 13, 2010. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
- Traditional Bengali martial arts Lathi Khela is performed
- ‘Lathi khela’ at Charukala
- Lathi Khela to celebrate Tangail Free Day
- Two-day long traditional Lathi Khela ended in Kushtia