Tent Pegging نیزہ بازی is a sport of cavaliers with roots going back to centuries. The exact origins of the sport are not determined but some tent pegging blogs and websites claim that the sport dates back to 326 BC in the North Western province of Afghanistan افغانستان . It is for sure that the sport originated in Asia. There are two widely accepted theories about the term “tent pegging”. One that it was a training tool for the cavaliers in India. They trained to stab the sensitive part of the war elephant’s foot behind the toenail. This stabbing caused the enemy elephants to run back into their own ranks and trample infantry. Second theory is that cavaliers practiced tent pegging to use it in a surprise dawn attack on enemy camps. Pulling the tent pegs of enemy tents caused the tents to collapse and cause chaos.
After 1947 when newly independent states of India and Pakistan struggled through turmoil of partition and started great leaps forward— sometimes successful— sometime failure for modernization, the game came under clouds because of lack of state patronage which ultimately diversified to more glitzy more glamorous games like cricket and hockey. Public interest in the cities thus diverted to these games of glamour, yet the landlords, bourgeoisie and the rural folk kept it alive. Funds were provided by them, horses raised, playfields maintained and tent peggers encouraged participating; who were paid sufficient amounts to go on gracefully with the game. This has kept the centuries old game of tent pegging still alive even though the competition from the urban games.
For a long time, tent pegging in Pakistan became synonymous with National Horse and Cattle Show which was held every year in Lahore and was a mega event that covered all types of sports and cultural activities. But with discontinuation of this Show, tent pegging lost its patronage. However, the Mela Mandis [cattle selling markets] in Faisalabad and Sargodha came on the scene and the exercise lured other centres and regions of Punjab province as well. At such events, a hallmark of spring in the Punjab, arenas echo with beat of the drums and yell’s of enthusiastic crowds providing tribute to players who then display the supreme feats of valor and competitive brilliance in the field. Players from Pakistan now regularly participate in international tent pegging competitions and many of them have left indelible impressions by winning gold medals many a times.