SAN JOSE, California—Yudh is an internationally recognized Gatka competition held once a year in different parts of the World. This year’s 9th annual Yudh took place in San Jose California for the first time. For some of the sangat it was the first opportunity to see one of the biggest Gurdwaras in North America. The entire atmosphere of the competition was full of anticipation as participants arrived adorned with Khalsa Baana and shimmering weapons. For one day, it seemed that the newly built multimillion dollar San Jose Gurdwara had turned into a Khalsa fort of the 18th century.
The main purpose of this Yudh is to preserve the Sikh heritage of Gatka given to Sikhs by Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji. Competitors from India, New York, Vancouver, Toronto, and all over California took part in this year’s competition. Participants performed many Gatka skills with marathis, kirpans, chakkars, and fari-soti fights (bamboo sticks). The main event of Yudh was the fari-soti fight, which decides the overall winner of the competition.
Sikhs of all ages wearing blue, orange, and white dastars were roaming around the Gurdwara Sahib going from one event to another and cheering on their favourite competitors and wishing them good luck. As time went on, the competition grew more fierce as it drew many more spectators around the main wrestling arena. It was getting louder as people were watching fari-soti fights. The tournament lasted around 16 hours, it started around 9am and it ended around 12:30 am the next day. Even though it lasted longer than was initially planned, most of the spectators sat around to watch the final game. It is one of the most anticipated games for every gatka player and fan.
This year’s final battle was between California Gakta Dal’s very own Jagmeet Singh and Dr. Onkar Singh, five-time Gatka Champion in India. Both had their game face on and were ambitious to win the title of Yudh Champion. Around 12:15am, the referee blew the whistle and started the game. After 120 seconds of battling with each other, the game was announced tied after the judges read the results. Now the game went into over-time, the deciding factor was only 30 seconds away. Both competitors gave it their best but at the end of 30 seconds, Jagmeet Singh from Fresno, California was announced the winner as the referee raised his arm in the air. The crowd was shouting jakaras of Bole So Nihal and it was a moment of happiness for the California Gatka Dal.
After the game, Sikh24 met up with the winner and asked him, “How does it feel to be a Yudh Champion?”
His response: “It feels amazing to accomplish this goal finally after three years of hard work. It’s not easy to make it this far into the competition every year, so I was very disappointed [with] missing the mark last year. For this year I worked hard but didn’t think I would end up winning the cup at home.”
During the trophy ceremony, free t-shirts and medals were given to the participants. Soon, everybody departed for home and it marked the end of this year’s Yudh.
For more infomation about the International Yudh Competition, please visit www.yudh.net