For more than quarter hour, those present at the Police stadium for the 67 Independence Day on Thursday were spell- bound by the Malkhamb exercise performed by boys from the ZP High School, Vommavaram in S. Rayavaram mandal.

Till now Independence Day and Republic Day celebrations organised by the District Administration witnessed children from various schools presenting well-rehearsed cultural items but the 21 boys from Vommavaram had the audience applauding them all through the 18-mintue show as they bent their lithe bodies in different ways, climbed the Malkhamb pole with ease, formed pyramids of different types and small boys hung parallel to the pole just locking it with one hand or leg and even stood on the few inches wide tip of the pole on two legs or one leg and keeping the rest of the body parallel to the ground. All through the show none of them was idle and it was probably the first show by them in front of a Minister P. Balaraju, and top district officials like Collector V. Sheshadri, and Commissioner of Police B. Shivadhar Reddy.

Malkhamb was an Indian traditional sport and commonly referred as a gymnastic show on a pole. It is believed to have originated in Maharashtra in the 12 century and after being dormant for several centuries, revived more than 200 years ago.

PET of ZP High School, Vommavaram P. Madhava Rao, who trained the boys, said sport originated to help wrestlers to get trained to gain good physical strength, agility and better hold on rivals.

A lot of practice and skill is needed for the sport which is would always get appreciation of the people, but it is yet to become popular in Andhra Pradesh, he regretted. He picked up Malkhamb while doing physical education course at the Kodi Ramamurthy Physical Education College at Bobbili and started training pupils at the Vommavaram school. Out of the 250 pupils, 30 boys are regularly practicing Malkhamb. “You have witnessed two years of hard work and regular practice”, he said. J. Ayyappa, one of the students said he started practicing Malkhamb as it would keep him in good health and parents also supported. R. Prasad, P. Sai Haranath, Bhaskar and others echoed the same feeling and are enjoying Malkhamb.

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