Clad in lose saffron or bright red kurtas and dhotis, they seem out of place in a sports arena. But the eight young boys, in their school attire, the pancha kachams, are actually here in Panchkula to compete in the Khelo India Youth Games.
Students of Isha Samskriti in Coimbatore, a way of learning and living envisioned by Isha Foundation's Sadhguru for children, they are part of the 25-member Tamil Nadu kalarippayattu squad.
And they are here not just to compete but to help Tamil Nadu win the title. They have been meticulously honing their skills in this sport for years.
"We want to become the first kalaripayattu champions," Swami Pushya declares, pointing out that the sport is being introduced for the first time in a championship of this magnitude.
"We are aware that hockey is our national sport and we love it," Inba Tamilan, one of the players, said while watching the semifinal between Odisha and Uttar Pradesh here on Thursday.
"The students at Isha are taught the basics of kalaripayattu, an ancient martial art, to establish balance and stability in all walks of life," Swami Pushya, who is accompanying the team as the leader, says.
Many of them will go abroad to spread the Indian martial art once they finish their studies. So, the chosen language of teaching is English.
"We have other options, too," another student explains. "When we complete 10 years, we can take the Standard X exams externally and even go for our graduation."
"We believe in acquiring new understanding, knowledge, behaviours, skills, values, attitudes, and preferences," Swami Pushya says.
Kalaripayattu is emerging as a source of inspiration for self-expression in dance forms, both traditional and contemporary, theatre and fitness.
Practicing Kalaripayattu increases one's flexibility and agility. It strengthens the muscles and tendons by exercising the body without equipment," he elucidates. (ANI)