pharsa

The Pharsa is a hoe designed for ploughing fields by hand. It is used in the Akhara to dig the wrestling pit prior to Jor practice. This activity is one of the first carried out in the daily routine and normally by  junior wrestlers though anyone may lend a hand if they deem it necessary. Preparation of the pit is done in a methodical manner, working from a corner and working outwards to cover the whole expanse of the training area.

As an exercise it is similar in many respects to sledgehammer strikes or chopping wood. However the drag effect of the earth makes retrieval of the Phasra extremely tiring. It is a full body workout that is particular taxing on the back, grip and cardiovascular system if done at a good pace.

After the pit is dug into several rows of furroughs it is then smoothed over either by hand  or with use of a block of wood and harness. The former can act as a dynamic stretch for the lower back, hamstrings and arms. In appearance it is similar to the pushup series done in the Iranian Zurkeneh. If a harness is used then one wrestler will pull it with a rope tied under his arms so he can use his back as support. Other wrestlers may stand on the block to add increased resistance. This heavily works the legs and all levels of wrestler may do this exercise. This is comparable to sled or tyre drags done with a rope.

Wrestlers will then cover themselves in the soil prior to Jor. This aids in creating friction on the body where sweat would make grip untenable. It also acts as the Kushti version of exfoliation and skin care. During preparation of the pit and ceremonies, oils, ghee flowers from Nim and Pipal trees as well as sweat of countless wrestlers,is mixed over and over. It is believed to be of great benefit to to those who cover themselves in it. The earth is used to cover the body from head to toe to bestow Vibhuti (power).

I would like to extend a special thank you to my comrade in arms Taha Benseddick for providing extra footage of himself both digging the pit and rubbing himself down! Thanks man, you're a legend!

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