Knowing Lathi Khela #Lathikhela #Didyouknow?
‘Lathikhela’ is a martial art which developed as an extension of martial defense skills used by ‘lathiyals’ of medieval Bengal , as most feudal lords employed groups of ‘lathiyals’ to defend their fiefdoms. In spite of the strident expansion of global urban culture into the indigenous domain, Bangladesh is an abode to a Traditional Martial Arts practice, which involves the use of ‘Bamboo’ sticks, called Lathi KhelaLathi- means stick; ‘khela’ means play; Lathiyal- ‘one who wields sticks’.
Unfortunately, due to the decline of patronization and other socio-politico-economic reasons, there was a marked waning in the practice of ‘lathikhela’ during the British Era till it was brought back to limelight by a highly perceptive and visionary civil servant, Gurusaday Dutta in 1932 through his Bratachari Movement . In 1932 Dutta started the ‘Bratachari’ movement with the aim of preserving individual and regional cultural diversities. Through this movement he revived many dying art forms of Bengal. In his words:
‘the Movement is to bring back to humanity, in all countries, the ideal and practice of the wholeness of life which, alike in the individual, the national and the international sphere has been so grievously shattered in the modern world in every country by the fragmentary outlook on, and treatment of, life in education, science, work, play and social functioning’
In 1933 an ‘All Bengal Stick Challenge Shield’ was established in Majampur of Kushtia District, in, the then, East Bengal. The tournament was participated in by groups from all over Bengal, including a few enthusiastic English players. In 1934 an ‘All Bengal Lathiyal Samiti (Association)’ was established with 17 members. However, 1947 onwards, with the partition of India, once again there was a waning of the practice of ‘lathikhela’. On the other hand, worldwide, martial art practitioners have worked extensively to develop their art to perfection. In comparison almost no thought has been given to the development of ‘lathikhela’. As a result presently, it continues to be popularly practiced, but with little or no patronization. Also, there is almost no systematized method for preserving its ‘content knowledge’.
Social Media , we believe, is a powerful instrument in bringing Lathi Khela’s popularity to the larger world surrounding its’ temporal space. This use of internet in an ‘ethnographic’ setting can be termed as ‘ Netnography’. Netnography with its underlying definition of being a ‘flexible’ approach allows scholars to explore and explain rich, diverse, cultural worlds with even greater emphasis on ‘researcher as instrument’ (Kozinets, Dolbec and Earley 2013) .We know for a fact that with all the technological advancements surrounding us , no longer can cultures be represented as reified, holistic, discrete, internally integrated and ontologically secure things-in-themselves. (Kozinet 2015). They are animated, borne, maintained, mutated, dispersed and transformed by individual consciousness-es. And hence,in conjunction to my research topic, social media needs to be utilized in its fullest extent to spread awareness about a field of study which is so less understood and researched except the community which holds it together, till now.
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Restructuring Traditions : An Experiment in introduction of Performance Pedagogy in an indigenous performing art of Bangladesh By Lubna Marium Shri Naresh Banerjee; ‘Gurusaday Dutt : Jiban O Rachanapanji’ (Life & Bibliography in Bengali
Sirajul Haque Chowdhury; ‘Lathikhelar Koushol’; December 1981
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