Meet Meenakshi Amma, Kalaripayattu expert and exponent in wielding the urumi. At 76, she received the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award during the year 2018. Amma's tryst with the art began from a very tender age, when she was hardly of five years.
Even then, VV Raghavan (or Raghavan master as he was called), the founder and teacher at the Kadathanadan Kalari Sangham school, sensed the innate talent of his young student. Despite his reputation as a tough task master, he was impressed by her nimble footwork, rhythmic movements, agility and dedication. Meenakshi supported her Master Raghavan in running the school and work there as his assistant. This art of Kalaripayattu is a male dominated domain and women clad wrapped in a saree generally avoid the hassle but Meenakshi Amma at 76 have broken the myths with her expertise. Her agility, fitness, defense techniques, counter attack, and swift movement generated million fans.
Every year, Amma's school trains around 200 students from various parts of the world and does not charge students. Only donation or dakshina is obtained from students that are offered on completion of the course. Amma reveals how Raghavan begin his journey by starting the school by his own and teaching the local boys free of cost. Since then, Amma is following his footsteps.
As revealed by many of the trainees, dedication and hard work is the key to Meenakshi Amma's tremendous success as a Kalaripayattu trainer. Though Amma is the proud recipient of one of the highest civilian award, she still remains a simple kind-hearted lady who will always inspire and make us proud.
By: Subrata Dey