Plea in Madras High Court for recognition of ancient sport Silambam

Chennai: A petition has been filed in the Madras high court to direct the Central and State governments to grant recognition to the All India Silambam Federation as the recognised national sports federation for the sport of Silambam and take steps to include Silambam in Olympic, Commonwealth, Asian and National Games.

Justice K.Ravichandrabaabu, before whom the petition filed by All India Silambam Federation represented by its general secretary B.Irin came up for hearing, ordered notice, returnable by six weeks, to the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, State government, Indian Olympic Association and Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu.

According to petitioner, Silambam is a weapon based martial art of India, originating from the State of Tamil Nadu. There are references in the epic Silappathikaram and other Sangam Literature that Silambam has been practised in second century and even prior to that.

Silambam has been played in almost all South Asian countries. In Indonesia, the Martial Art called “Silat” is well known and equivalent to their National Game which has been derived from Silambam. Even in the early freedom fight by the Tamil Kings like Maruthupandiar, Pulithevar, Veerapandiya Kattabomman etc Silambam was used to fight against British Army and won several battles. The British government had banned Silambam for several decades as prohibited sports.

After independence, several exponents/gurus had started developing Silambam as sport and martial art. But, there was no statutory body to maintain the standards, code of points and other procedures for a long time.

The petitioner had taken up the task and registered the same under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act. Thereafter, the petitioner had taken effort to develop the sport of Silambam all over India and overseas.

Therefore, several countries, states have joined hands with the petitioner Federation. The Association for International Sports for All has granted affiliation to the petitioner’s Federation, the petitioner added.

The petitioner said, taking into account the petitioner’s sincere effort to develop the sport of Silambam, the School Games Federation of India had recognised the Sport of Silambam as one of the disciplines at the national level and conducted national level competitions. The petitioner has provided the technical support to conduct the competition. On May 20, 2014, the Sports Authority of India had recognised Silambam as one among disciplines of sports. Since the petitioner had fulfilled all the required criteria to get recognition from the Union of India, it had on May 8, 2015 submitted a representation for grant of recognition and it was pending.

The Indian Olympic Association had on June 11, 2018 passed an order rejecting the claim of the petitioner on the ground that Silambam was not a sport under the sports

programme of Olympic Games, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. This order was passed only with a view to discourage the ancient sport of Silambam. It was the primary duty cast upon the authorities to extend patronage to traditional native sports like Silambam.

Having recognised sports like Kalaripayatu, Wushu, Tug of War, Tenni-koit etc., it was highly arbitrary and discriminatory to ignore the ancient sport of Silambam. Even after 72 years of Independence, our ancient sport of Silambam was being neglected without proper support, care and patronage from the authorities, the petitioner added.

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