Meenakshi Amma is a 78 year old great grandmother from Kerala who has been learning kalari since she was 7. She is still practising, learning and teaching and has been a driving force in the revival of kalaripayattu.
She has been instrumental in encouraging girls to take up this martial art. According to her, ”When women learn this martial art, they feel physically and mentally strong and it makes them confident to work and travel alone.”
Kalari contains elements of dance and yoga and can involve weapons such as swords, shields and staffs.It is said to purify the mind, body and soul and improve concentration, speed, patience and also regenerate physical and mental energy. It is around 3,000 years old and it finds a mention in ancient Hindu scriptures.
The Britishers banned the practice in 1804 but it survived underground and was revived in the early 20th century. It is now recognised as a sport and is practised all over India.
Meenakshi has contributed a lot to kalari and won a national award in 2017.