THE FIERCE GATKA WARRIORS
Jo Bole Sonihaal Sasriyakaal!
You enter Punjab, and these words keep echoing in your ears. Punjab is characterized by its vigour and vibrant, and a perennial flow of energy amongst its inhabitants. The culture of Punjab is one of the oldest and richest cultures in the world history, and also one of the most flourishing. The Indian state of Punjab exhibits a unique cultural landscape, which thrives in both traditional values and utilitarian aspects. Anahad’s pilot project in Punjab started off with a dynamic performance staged by the fearless Gatka performers coupled with an energetic recital of the bravery of the warriors of Punjab immersed in Veer Rass, was an altogether unique experience for the entire team.
Gatka is the name of an Indian martial art associated with the Sikh Dharma. It is a style of stick fighting, with wooden sticks intended to simulate swords. The Punjabi name gatka properly refers to the wooden stick used. The word originates as a diminutive of Sanskrit gada “mace”.
The art originated when the sixth Guru of Sikhs: Guru Hargobind decided that the Sikhs need to learn self-defence to combat the atrocities ushered upon them. He formulated Gatka as a martial art and it was passed to succeeding generations. Gatka has been revived again at the time of British invasion of India. Gatka can be practised either as a sport (Khel) or ritual (rasmi). The ritual form is demonstrated and is performed to music during spiritual ceremonies, or as part of a theatrical performance. A practitioner of gatka is called a gatkabaj while a teacher is addressed as Guru or Gurudev.
Talvinder Ji led the Gatka team of fifteen fighters who were astonishingly synchronized with each other. Though Gatka is a fierce martial art form, Talvinder Ji knows how to keep his calm while mastering it. He is an extremely humble and patient person. He finds himself devoted fully to his art form. He has been performing Gatka since he was 5 years old. He had learnt this Punjabi art from his Guruji – Sukhdev Singh ji. He trains kids in Gatka art form for free.
He told us that he packs his bag in the morning and leaves for his shows. Talvinder ji feels that Gatka as an art form is not getting the amount of recognition that it should get. Age is not the limit for them. Art knows no boundaries- he usually performs with his group of 15 other Gatka performers from varying backgrounds and ages, 2 small kids of 4 years of age, performing in full grace with the poise of a warrior. At the same time, his group consists of 2 old men as old as 70 years of age.
The open fields, the cold breeze in the morning and the charged Gatka performers, gave all of us an adrenaline rush and charged us all with the enthusiasm and zeal of theirs.
Avtar Ji, the lead of the singer group: told how he started learning Daddh Sarangi from his father and grandfather at a tender age. He writes his own compositions and does commentary in a lot of Gatka performances. He is totally devoted to his music and believes in seva-bhaav through his enlightening music. He often goes to the Gurudwara for service and finds himself in the comfort of the highest power who guides us all.
The visually appealing formations of the Gatka group and their martial arts gave us all goosebumps. There is absolutely no measure of their dedication and laboriousness.