Not all leisure activities are the purview of the elite, and there are sporting events created by those who live in smaller towns and villages that are related to pastoral activities. The people create their sporting activities as they go along, and of course, there are all the usual sports played in the playing fields such as cricket, football, hockey, basketball, volleyball, tennis, badminton, and of course, at the shooting ranges, skeet and clay-pigeon shooting. In the latter, in fact, Dr Karni Singh of Bikaner, the late maharaja of that state, held the honour of an Olympics medallist for several years. These are organised activities, but in rural areas, competitive events are more usually held during religious or social fairs. These can include camel races, or bullock races. Visitors may ask for demonstrations and then join in such local sporting events as kho-kho and gulli-danda, team events played in virtually all the lanes and streets of Rajasthan. In addition, there are races involving the carriages that animals may be used to pull as a part of their daily activity schedule.
The tonga or horse chariot provides an environment-friendly mode of transport in most towns of Rajasthan, though, obviously, it is also slower. However, just how fast these ponies can race is put to the test during fairs when tonga races are organised. With their owners astride the carriage, whip in hand, egging along their ponies, they make a wonderful sight as they cut a swathe through the sandy countryside.
Similarly, cart races can be held, pulled by camels and, on occasion, even asses. However, knowing the donkeys tendency for stubborness, most people decide more wisely to lay their bets on the camels. Camel cart races are held in sandy terrain, and the carts are especially decorated for the events, with streamers and buntings. Camels can be made to run fast, and as they lope ahead, the carts seem to jump behind to keep pace with the beasts. Camel cart races are fun, and give rise to a great deal of merriment among the gathered audience.
The passion for kite-flying in Jaipur is legendary,
and every city has community clubs where the sport is ardently
practiced. Every city skyline is alive with kites during the early
morning and evening, and sometimes even during the day. Children
gather at rooftops to compete about both their prowess as well as the
resilience of their strings.
Makar Sankranti in January is when the sport of kite flying is almost endemic, with an international kite flying competition in Jaipur, while the monsoon period is another favourite. However, but for a brief spell during the peak months of summer, kite flying continues throughout the year.
Visitors can participate through the simple measure of buying colourful kites and string inexpensively for only a few rupees and joining the Rajasthani people at what could almost qualify as the state festival.