Thoda is an Indian martial art that is majorly played in Himachal Pradesh, especially in the valleys of Kullu and Manali. Thoda requires expertise in martial arts. The main weapons of Thoda are the bow and arrow. In the olden days, Thoda was played among villages in Himachal Pradesh. People from neighboring villages would come to a village and throw leaves in the wells of other villages at night. Those leaves in the well would be taken as a warning sign by the villagers and hence, they started preparing themselves for an encounter.
The whole concept of Thoda revolves around a unique concept. Thoda aims at creating a highly energetic environment by playing fast music with energetic beats and using the lively actions of the players. Thoda is a perfect amalgamation of martial arts, culture, and sports. Thoda is played during Baisakhi, where the whole community offers its prayers to Goddess Mashoo and Durga. This martial art fills people’s hearts with joy, excitement, and enthusiasm. Thoda has a lot of significance for the people of Himachal Pradesh as it preserves their culture and integrity.
In Thoda, there are two groups with 500 people in each group, where most of the people act as cheerleaders for their team’s players. The two groups are named Saathi and Pashi, who are supposed to be the descendants of the Pandavas. Both the groups dance to the melodious tunes of warfare and wave their swords high up in the air to mock each other. The Pashi group constructs a chakravyuh (a circle of people) to block the players from the Saathi group. The Saathi team tries to break the chakravyuh so that they can reach the middle of the ground. Both the teams are positioned at a distance of 10 meters from each other and prepare to attack. The intention of playing Thoda is not to harm anyone, but the only way to defend is lightning movements and agility.