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The Wrestler's BodyIdentity and Ideology in North India$
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Joseph Alter

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780520076976

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520076976.001.0001

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Wrestling Tournaments and the Body's Recreation

Wrestling Tournaments and the Body's Recreation

(p.167) Chapter 7 Wrestling Tournaments and the Body's Recreation
The Wrestler's Body

Joseph S. Alter

University of California Press

Indian wrestling dangals may be read as texts. They are interpretive templates that provide a framework for making sense of cultural experience. However, while the cockfight is a studied microcosm of “things Balinese”—status, honor, propriety, hierarchy, masculinity, and antibestiality—the dangal seems to defy any like characterization for the Indian scene. The cockfight seems to elaborate meaning through the operation of symbolic dramatization. Dangals, on the other hand, seem to strip meaning down to essentials, to first principles. Building on this theme, this chapter offers an interpretation of the dangal in order to explain what it says about wrestling in particular and also about Hindu society in India. Set against the textured aesthetic of the akhara; the intricate regime of day-to-day life; the charged relationship between patron, guru, and wrestler; and the symbolic world brought to life on Nag Panchami, the dangal is a one-dimensional, abbreviated event.

Keywords:   wrestling, dangals, cockfight, Balinese, akhara, patron, guru, wrestler, India, Nag Panchami

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