Kushti is a traditional form of Indian mud wrestling, an ancient culture where wrestlers live and train together and follow strict rules on living a pure life. Drinking, smoking and even sex are off limits.
For more pictures check out the gallery "Kushti in India".
The wrestlers live, practice and sleep together in an akhara (or akhada). In Maharashtra the akharas are called talim. The akhara is a place to practice Kushti with facilities for sleeping, cooking and training. Smaller ahkaras host around 20 or 30 wrestlers, whereas big akharas form a community of up to hundred wrestlers. The age of the mud wrestlers range from seven or eight to mid-twenties. The wrestlers come from across all India. Many of them have been away from their families virtually all their life. They consider the community in the akhara as their family. Many of the boys come from poor families and Kushti is a chance to break out of the cycle of poverty.
Traditional mud wrestlers are referred as pehlwans, the teachers in an akhara are called ustad. The athletes are not required to be vegetarians and they are allowed to eat chicken and eggs. The diet is also heavily based on crushed almonds, milk and ghee, which is referred as "khurak", the holy trinity of the wrestler's diet. In addition to it the pehlwans also eat vegetables, rice, lentils and fruit.
Shipbuilding in Bangladesh has become a major industry in recent years. Bangladesh has over 200 shipbuilding companies, mostly concentrated in Dhaka, Chittagong, Barisal and Khulna. The largest and most famous shipyard in Bangladesh is the Chittagong Ship Breaking Yard.
One big shipyard in Dhaka is located on the riverbank of the Buriganga River just opposite of the Sadarghat in Old Dhaka. The best way to reach the dockyard is to cross the Buriganga River at Sadarghat by using one of the numerous small wooden boats for just 5 Taka. The dockyard is open for everyone and it is very easy to roam around. The shipyard provides docks and equipment mostly for repairing and maintaining big vessels. But the workers in the yard also break down old ships as well as build new ships from scratch.
The first thing to notice when entering the yard is that the workers are extremely kind and welcoming. They always have a friendly smile for the visitors, and sometimes the ship-owners or dockyard managers greet the visitors with a handshake. A stroll in the shipyard is always accompanied by the rhythmic and incessant sound of hammering. Countless workers equipped with a hammer get rid of the rust and old paint of the boat hulls. The constant buzz of activity on the yard includes metal cutting, welding and painting. But there are also other facilities like foundries for ship propellers and workplaces to maintain the ship engines. And there are of course the huge cable winches to drag the big vessels out of the Buringanga River on the docks.
To see all pictures take a look at the complete foto gallery "Dockyard Dhaka" in the gallery section.
Kerala in South India has many popular traditional dance forms like Kathakali, Kutiyattam or Theyyam. Kathakali is an impressive form of classical dance and a wonderful combination of dance, drama, music and religious theme. The presentation is usually based on the Ramayana, the ancient Hindu poem about the divine prince Rama and his wife Sita. Kutiyattam (or Koodiyattam) is a form of Sanskrit theatre and one of India’s oldest living theatrical traditions. It represents a synthesis of Sanskrit classicism and reflects the local traditions of Kerala. Both art forms, Kathakali and Kutiyattam, are performed all over Kerala, but mostly in and around Kochi.
Theyyam on the other hand is only found in the northern part of Kerala. The performers of Theyyam always belong to the lower caste. Like Kathakali and Kutiyattam, Theyyam is also a traditional ritual dance form. However, in Theyyam the dancers and performers not only play the deities, during the performance they lose their physical identity and finally impersonate the god and receive magical power. Therefore the blessing of the devotees is an important part at the end of a Theyyam ceremony.
Enjoy a tea in a local tea stall in Bangladesh and you will certainly attract the undivided attention of the other customers. Start a conversation in English with local people and you are often quickly in the center of a group of 20 or 30 people staring at the "sensation" from the western world: a foreigner having a conversation with local people! Not that the people are so interested in what you are saying - most of them don't speak or understand English anyway. No, they are fascinated because they are not used to foreigners at all, but in the same time they love foreigners and treat them like movie stars. It is simply a big sensation in their daily life. Welcome in Bangladesh, the country with the friendliest people in the world!
Dhaka - or better Old Dhaka - is a unique place like no other mega city in the world. Bangladesh is the most densely populated country in the World, and especially in Old Dhaka you can see and feel it everywhere. I've never seen so many rickshaws in my life. Standing right in the middle of a rickshaw traffic jam in rush hour where you barely can move at all is an experience you only find in Old Dhaka. The traditional market right next to Sadarghat along the riverbank of the Buriganga River is a wonderful experience especially early in the morning.