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IN People ON 20 Oct, 2016
Dedication and Commitment are what that transfer dreams into realities- Anonymous.
The quote goes very apt with this woman who holds sticks and sword in her hand like a fighter and stuns everyone with the art that she performs. Age is merely a figure for Meenakshi Gurukkal- the woman who is an expert in the oldest martial art form, Kalaripayattu in Kerala. She has been practicing the art since she was a kid and now, the Kalaripayattu maestro is transferring the gained knowledge to the students as well as adults.
Read the inspirational story of the 'Iron Lady of Kerala' and get motivated with the vigour and skills that this woman has.
Known as Kerala's Iron Lady, Meenakshi Gurukkal (Amma) is from Puthupadam in Kerala. The 73-year-old is a Kalaripayattu expert.
Kalaripayattu is the oldest existing martial art form which originated around 2000 years ago in India and is said to be the base for the present Chinese martial art, as a Buddhist monk, Bodhidharma took this knowledge from India to China.
Meenakshi said she was seven, when her father got her enrolled in a learning school for Kalaripayattu and she also learnt classical dance during those days.Under the guidance of her guru, Raghavan, she learnt the art for 10 years and then married him at the age of 17.
After marriage, she stopped practicing classical dance as it was not possible for her to continue dance and Kalaripayattu together. Her husband had a dream of opening a training school for people who wanted to learn the art, but it faced a lot of hurdles as people from their community had some issues with Raghavan's caste.
They both, with the help of some local people were successful in building up the Kadathanadan Kalari Sangam in 1949. It is a place where people belonging to any caste can come and learn the art without any discrimination.
The school has many students and also their parents who learn Kalaripayattu, as there is no age bar. There are morning as well as evening batches so that the working women may also come and learn without any issues. The course duration and daily routine is also followed.
...more than a third of the students here are girls. Earlier, parents used to think twice before enrolling them, but now with the advent of proper education, their numbers are increasing day by day as parents believe that it is a very safe form of self-defence for the girls.
Meenakshi Amma doesn't charge fee from the students as Raghavan master wanted this place to be open and accessible to everyone. They only receive 'Gurudakshina' that is an offering from the student after the completion of their training.
Meenakshi Amma gives more than 60 demonstrations in a year and manages this all in a saree. She fights like a brave soldier and even men who are younger to her, fail to defeat her in any of the forms.
Here, they also make medicines and oil for students as if someone gets injured, immediate treatment can be given. They also arrange for massages for men and women. Outsiders even come for their treatment here.
She manages all this in a saree everyday and says it is the most comfortable outfit for her. She has trained about 10,000 students under her, including her own children and grandchildren. Talking about today's generation she says, 'No doubt, Kalari is good for health and body, but today children have their own priorities of studies and career. I will be happy if they can manage both.'
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