1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Gymkhana

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GYMKHANA, a display of miscellaneous sports, originally at the military stations of India. The word would seem to be a colloquial remodelling of the Hindustani gend-khana, ball-house or racquet-court, by substituting for gend the first syllable of the English word “gymnastics.” The definition given in Yule's Glossary is as follows: “A place of public resort at a station, where the needful facilities for athletics and games . . . are provided.” The name of the place was afterwards applied to the games themselves, and the word is now used almost exclusively in this sense. According to Yule the first use of it that can be traced was, on the authority of Major John Trotter, at Rurki in the year 1861, when a gymkhana was instituted there. Gymkhana sports were invented to relieve the monotony of Indian station life, and both officers and men from the ranks took part in them. The first meetings consisted of promiscuous horse and pony races at catch weights. To these were soon added a second variety, originally called the pāgŏl (funny races), the one generally known outside India, which consisted of miscellaneous races and competitions of all kinds, some serious and some amusing, on horseback, on foot and on bicycles. Among these may be mentioned the usual military sports; such as tent-pegging, lemon-cutting and obstacle racing; rickshaw racing; tilting at the ring, sack, pillion, hurdle, egg-and-spoon, blindfold, threading-the-needle and many other kinds of races depending upon the inventive powers of the committees in charge.