The annual Rural Olympics or Gramotsavam draws upto 500,000 people
Olympics, rural style!
The Rural Olympics are an integral part of Action for Rural Rejuvenation’s efforts in introducing sports and recreational activities in the villages of Tamil Nadu. Daily gatherings on the volley-ball court are helping to renew a sense of community by involving villagers – old and young, and men and women from all castes and economic levels. Playing together fosters a healthy spirit of competition, which translates into higher self-esteem, improved communal harmony, better health and enhanced productivity.
“It makes such an enormous shift in them – just playing games and having inter-village tournaments. They forget all their miseries, their half-full bellies and everything. Suddenly they are a new kind of people,” says Sadhguru. “People were coming with the inspiration that they want to change their lives and live in a different way, in a more inspired way.”
It was unthinkable just a few years ago that adult and old women would turn up to play games in rural Tamil Nadu. Other changes have also taken place. At the volleyball final of the Rural Olympics, it is remarkable to see cheers come for a volleyball player, the villagers forgetting that the boy who is a champion in their village, is from the lower strata of the caste system. Other rural competitive sports scheduled for the day include games of throw ball and many traditional rural games like kabadi, uriyadi (blind-folded pot-breaking), tug-of-war, rekla-race (bullock cart races), valukkumaram (greasy pole contests), and slow cycle races carrying on till sunset.