meet 76 year old Meenakshi Amma- a master at kalaripayattu

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Amidst the chaos of pollution and reducing old age, many people tend to loose their strength after they cross 50 years of age. Meenakshi Amma is among those unsung heroes of the country who despite her age is creating history. This granny will inspire you to stay active daily. At the age when many of us choose to quit even doing household chores, Meenakshi is setting an all new trend.

Meenakshi Amma, also called Meenakshi gurukkal defies the age with a spin of her sword. Meenakshi was only seven when her father admitted her to a school to learn Kalaripayattu. Meenakshi was admitted to a martial art school in an era when fighting was not a thing for girls. Girls were only meant to look after the family. But Meenakshi’s father was determined to break the societal chains and gave Meenakshi wings instead of broom. And this from where her story started. V Raghavan the founder and the teacher in school taught her the skill and was so much impressed by her abilities that he proposed to marry her. Later the both get married and had four children. Since past 69 years she has been practicing the martial art form “kalaripayattu.” In 2009 her husband died, since then she has taken his responsibilities on her shoulder. She runs the school and teaches young boys and girls about this martial art, the school is still run by the disciplines taught by her late husband. There is no fee for the classes and money is accepted in the form of dakshina and expenses for the oil used in Kalari. All of her four children and nine grandchildren are also trained in the field. The 76 years old nanny fights young men single handedly. She is true example of strength and power. Today her Kalaripayattu school Kadathanadan Kalari Sangam, which is located in Vadakara near Calicut, Kerala, has 150 students and more than a third of them are girls. The age of the students range from six to twenty-six and there is not age or caste bar.  She is a real life, sari-clad Unniyarcha, the legendary warrior heroine of the Vadakkan Pattukal, the northern ballads of Kerala.

“All four of my children are trained in Kalaripayattu as are all my grandchildren. In fact this place was once the land of warriors and there was hardly any family without the knowledge of kalaripayattu,” says Meenakshi.

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Meenakshi says that when she was young, at that time not much girls were allowed to learn kalaripayattu not because of racial discrimination but also because of the strength it needed. Today she is happy that many parents have opened up and are sending their daughters to learn the art form. Kalaripayattu offers great flexibility and a range of self-defense techniques which are important for ladies at this point of time.

Amma was also awarded with India’s fourth highest civilian award- Padma Shri in 2017 for preserving and teaching this ancient art form. She is happy that the legacy she inherited from her husband is safe and untouched. Meenakshi is a reminder that passion doesn’t need age, all you need is love and determination for what you like. She is a disciplined women who did what nobody thought she would do, and over that she is still maintaining that position.   

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