Thousands of people turned out to watch a tent pegging and kabaddi tournament at a Blackburn park.

The mela (festival) was held at Pleasington Playing Fields on Sunday and attracted people from across the country.

An early heavy rain shower threatened to put a dampener on the day but the weather soon cleared up and large crowds enjoyed an afternoon watching some of the best tent-pegging riders showcase their skills.

The riders were split into teams each decorated in their own regalia and club colours. Around 120 horses were said to be on show with the adjoining car park full of trailers and vehicles, each displaying club badges.

Tent pegging is a traditional equestrian sport where mounted horseman gallop, pick up and carry away a small ground target.

An intrigued crowd watched on, made up of fans of the sport and passers-by on their Sunday walk. The riders had earlier been introduced to the crowds by a lively commentator and dhols - bhangra style drummers.

Each of the clubs turned out in their own colours and regalia and later in the day the Kabaddi players took centre stage

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The team of riders made a grand entrance watched by judges and special guests

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The event went on for much of the afternoon with riders later rewarded with trophies by a team of judges and special guests.

The tent pegging was organised locally by Haji Ch Muhammad Ahmed Khan, Jat Ghazi Haiidari Club UK and Haji Khan Zaman Gujjar, Mula Ali Waras Club UK.

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At the end of the festival riders were honoured with awards

The festival also saw a special weightlifting competition, supported by local gym Better Bodies, where gym enthusiasts went head-to-head to lift the heaviest weight.

One of the winners on the day was Imran Iqbal (below) who was representing Muscle Factory, who lifted 280kg in front of an expectant crowd.

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Later in the afternoon kabaddi fans descended on the site as Pakistan took on India.

In kabaddi, points are scored for each player tagged by the ‘raider’, who runs into the opposing team's half of a court to touch another player before trying to return to his own half of the court without being caught.

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The Kabaddi is always a big crowd puller

While rules differ in parts of South Asia, here one member from each team goes up against another and then tries to make it back to base. Crowds are especially keen to watch a raider 'slap' his opponent and try to evade capture as he sprints back to his team mates.

The kabaddi got under way around an hour after the advertised time with teams making their way onto the pitch after 6pm. Much of the banter and announcements tend to feature in the build up.

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Special guests, including local businessman who had kindly sponsored the event, the Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen Cllr Parwaiz Akhtar and fellow councillors watched proceedings from a specially constructed stage.

Again, a lively commentator kept crowds entertained with his wit and humour throughout the evening.

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A joint statement from the organisers said: “We would like to thank all the volunteers and in particular the public who helped to make the Kabaddi Mela such a success.

“Once again, the crowds turned out in numbers and the tent pegging, kabaddi, stone lifting and strongman exhibition were loved by the public.”

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The team captain for the Blackburn side was Rashad Javid.

Zafar who helped to organise the event alongside a team of volunteers said: “The rain at the beginning was a bit worrying. We were sat there in the morning in the van thinking it might be cancelled.

“But thankfully it all turned out well.

“The riders had been training for a while and put a great effort in for the fans.

“The kabaddi players had also been training and competing at other events.

“A few people were coming into the tournament with injuries.

“It was also great to see new talent on show. An MMA fighter from Nelson, Sarfraz Nawaz proved to be huge surprise and did well in only his second match.

“A huge thank you to all the players and the volunteers for their help throughout the past few weeks as this event takes a lot of organising.”

You can view some more images from some of the other photographers from across the north of England who were at the event to cover the tent pegging.

CLICK HERE for images from Bev Clough Photography

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