India’s Rural Olympics make the regular Games seem quaint by comparison

Jordana Divon
Contributing Writer
Daily Buzz

Q: What do you get when you cross a seasoned Olympic athlete with Chuck Norris and hit the copy-paste function?

A: The 4,000 participants in this year’s Kila Raipur Sports Festival, otherwise known as India’s Rural Olympics.

Each February for the past 77 years, contestants have flocked to the Ludhiana district of eastern Punjab to see which among them can carry the most bricks with his teeth or balance the heftiest farm plow on his mouth.

Yes, you read that correctly. These events are certainly not for the meek – or anyone with a functional pain threshold for that matter.

Other popular games include getting run over by a tractor, an octogenarian marathon and the most extreme bull-cart race you’ve ever witnessed. And we haven’t even gotten to the guy who can pull that same tractor with his bicuspids.

While these contests may read to us like discarded scenes from the Saw movie franchise, there’s an important historical and cultural context behind the event.

Back when these rural villages were still developing hundreds of years ago, harsh conditions required that townsfolk cultivate impressive personal strength in order to handle grueling field labour and be ready for the constant threat of invasion from outsiders.

Contests like wrestling, weightlifting and running eventually turned into organized games and an important part of village life across the Punjab region.

While the Wall Street Journal notes that animal rights groups haven't been too thrilled with the bull races in recent years, the paper notes that the controversy hasn't put a dent in the Games.

For those who get a little squeamish at the thought of potential dismemberment, the event also includes a variety of more traditional (read: non-dental-threatening) contests like the 100-metre dash.

Today the Sports Festival attracts nearly a million spectators and has cemented itself as a key part of the region’s cultural identity.

And it’s no surprise, because who wouldn’t want to witness someone pulling a car with his ears? Chuck Norris certainly wouldn't.