I am glad to know that Isha Gramotsavam has become an effective tool for social transformation that helps villagers move away from addictions, break caste barriers within the community, empower women and revive the resilient rural spirit, Union Minister Anurag Thakur said at the grand finale of Isha Gramotsavam held at the Isha Yoga Center in Coimbatore on Saturday.
Launched by Sadhguru in 2004, the social initiative is aimed at bringing the spirit of sports and playfulness into the lives of rural people. The minister was accompanied by Isha Foundation founder Sadhguru, popular Tamil actor Santhanam and former Indian Hockey captain Dhanraj Pillay.
“The wonderful initiative undertaken by Sadhguru celebrates rural sports and culture like none other…. Isha Gramotsavam started way back in 2004 aiming to bring health, prosperity and well-being to the rural masses, and I could see the sportspersons here, some of them work as labourers, agriculturalists, and fishermen, but I could see the competitive spirit in them,” Thakur, the Union Sports Minister, said.
Thrilled to attend the Gramotsavam programme at @ishafoundation in the divine company of @SadhguruJV ji. It was truly a mesmerizing experience witnessing the electrifying atmosphere and the enthusiasm of the participants. I was glad to hear that more than 60,000 players have… pic.twitter.com/jqADwUwYdV— Anurag Thakur (@ianuragthakur) September 23, 2023
Conducted in the backdrop of the 112-feet Adiyogi, the finale witnessed players putting up a captivating display of rural prowess.
Speaking on the occasion Sadhguru said: “Celebration is the basis of life, and it is possible only when you are playful. So, it’s fantastic to see that across 25,000 villages, over 60,000 players and hundreds and thousands of spectators in those villages, all at some point not knowing what they were doing, they would have jumped, screamed, yelled, laughed, and cried. This is what is needed to make life happen.”
“Our minister was saying, you must play some game. I don’t know what your conditions are. You live in an apartment building or somewhere. Well, you can at least throw a ball at each other. If you don’t have a ball, throw an onion. If onion is too expensive, throw a potato- something to make life playful,” he added.
At the event, Uthamasolpuram, Salem reigned over FEC Sithurajapuram in Volleyball, grabbing the top honours. In Throwball, PG Pudur, Coimbatore won the championing trophy with Black Panther from Maragodu, Karnataka finishing a close second. The Erode team defeated the Dindigul team in Women’s Kabaddi. In the Paralympics game, Coimbatore Para Volleyball Association, Coimbatore beat Kumari Kings, Kanyakumari to win the Paralympic Volleyball Championship.
Congratulating the winners, Sadhguru, on social media platform X (formerly Twitter), said: “Congratulations to all #IshaGramotsavam participants, spectators & volunteers for re-creating the celebratory spirit so integral to rural Bharat. It is only through celebration that we can keep alive the richness of our heritage. May Gramotsavam reignite and strengthen community spirit in every village of Bharat. Blessings. -Sg”
The event which began in August unfolded in the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala and the Union Territory of Puducherry. Played in over 194 rural locations, Isha Gramotsavam saw the participation of 60,000 players, with over 10,000 rural women, mostly householders, participating in events like Kabaddi and Throwball.
Isha Outreach, which organised Isha Gramotsavam, has been recognised as a National Sports Promotion Organization (NSPO) by the Ministry of Sports & Youth Affairs.
Celebrities like Sachin Tendulkar, Olympic medallist Rajavardhan Singh Rathore and Karnam Malleshwari have earlier participated as special guests in the finals of the sports festival. Mithali Raj, PV Sindhu, Virender Sehwag, Shikhar Dhawan, and Javagal Srinath also voiced support for Isha Gramotsavam.