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December 9, 2009

Cricket is an Indian game accidentally discovered by British” – A lot of people have said this time and again. India took to cricket as a duck takes to water. Cricket in India was unheard of till the Brits came to India. Why and how did India or the India sub-continent embrace cricket so easily and so well?

The answer perhaps lies in our culture and tradition. Indians have always liked long and elaborate forms of recreation – be it festivals, tours or family functions. A full-fledged Hindu marriage lasts for about 4 days. Any other ceremony or ‘Pooja’ lasts a full day or more. A simple house-warming ceremony will consume 2 days. Short ceremonies are simply not palatable for traditional Hindus.

Most Indian movies last for two and half hours. A 90 minute movie would seem like a loss of money for a lot of Indian viewers. Song and dance could make or break a few Indian films. This has to do with our modes of enjoying leisure before cinemas came into existence. A lot of plays, dramas and folk events are laced with song and dance sequences which lasts for hours together and in a few cases like ‘Yakshagana’ and ‘Kathakali’ it would stretch the entire night.

India is home to two of the greatest epics – ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharata’. Apart from these epics, India is also host to a lot of other ancient texts like the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagwath etc. A lot of stories are taken from these books and adapted in the plays, dramas etc. ‘Hari Kathas’ and Bhagwath’ can stretch to a few days or weeks or even months. Indian famous festival ‘Deepavali’ lasts for 4 to 5 days,Navaratri’ lasts for 9 days. There are not many countries which can boast of as many festivals as Indians do and no one is complaining.

When it comes to traditional tours – Whew!! This would be one trip planned for a lifetime. The ‘Char dham’ yatra, Kailash Manasarovar, Amarnath, Vaishnodevi etc. can take up a few weeks of our time. A lot of Hindus consider visiting a few of these places at least once in their lifetime.

When all these were so long elaborate, sport was one thing which did not complement the other recreational activities. Cricket was able to fill that void. Indians then, must have been so happy to see the sport which would keep them busy for 5 full days. Even the shorter form of the game will consume an entire day. We did take time, but it is no surprise that, at the time of writing this post, we are the World no. 1 in longer format of the game – Test Cricket.

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6 Comments
  1. Suman permalink

    I had never looked at it that way. So true..we do like everything nice and long and enjoy every moment of it. You have put it across very nicely. And I enjoyed reading this post. Looking forward to more.

  2. Very informative. Thanks, good writing.

  3. Krishna permalink

    Super perspective – I think you really hit the nail on the head with the “elaborate” angle. And very nicely written.

    One thing that strongly resonates with me is that Indians are also big-time into arm-chair analysis .. they love to discuss and analyze things to death, even if only to shoot the breeze and kill time.

    And cricket lends itself to endless hours of critique-ing, whether it is a test match (all the better – 5 full days, if lucky :) ), ODI or T20, whether it is past or present or even the future :).

    • One other thing about cricket is the statistics we can collect and which can be debated and compared all the time. One simple example….. After a run being completed, our commentator says… “this is the highest partnership for the 5th wicket for India vs South Africa in India batting first in a day/night match…”

      Whew, can you beat that!!

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