the jazzy Jobbarer boli khela
Jobbarer Boli Khela, a century-old traditional wrestling competition is one of the oldest traditions of the port city, Chittagong. Held in the first month of the Bangla year, Boishakh, the sporting event takes place at Laldighi Maidan. This contest gets its name from a local merchant Abdul Jobbar Sawdagor who introduced this competition back in 1909 (Bengali year 1316) with an aim to motivate and organise the Bangalee youths in the movements against the British Raj. The British ruler considered this move as a threat and tried to put an end to it by offering the Sawdagor, fancy titles like “Khan Bahadur”. He turned down the proposal and continued holding the competitions.
The descendants of Abdul Jobbar with the support of local people, proudly uphold this traditions that very few Chittagonians fail to attend.
This year Marma Sing Tripura of Khagrachhari and Didarul
Alam Didar of Cox's Bazar shared the title. Fifty bolis (wrestlers) from greater Chittagong, Feni, Noakhali, Comilla, Chandpur and offshore islands participated in the century old competition. Forty-six wrestlers took part in the first round and four competed in the challenge bout. In the end, Marma Sing and Didarul Alam went head to head in the finals, failed to get a clear edge over one another, and ended up sharing the trophy.
The zest of the competition brings huge crowds to the port city every year. A three-day 'Boishakhi Mela' also takes place adding more charm to the event. Vendors from different parts of the country join with a wide variety of handicrafts including household essentials, showpiece items and traditional munchies.
By Shahnaz Parveen
Photo: Munem Wasif