Chennai-based youth wins laurels in silambattam

Chennai: It has become common to hear news about women facing the unthinkable out in the public. As unfortunate as it is, the society has started to look for ways to counter the issue and provide more safety.  CCTV cameras are being installed at every possible nook and corner of the city. But, the reality is that surveillance cameras are not going to help a woman in trouble instantly.  This is what drove Ganesh Babu of Oragadam to enroll his daughter Padma Shree in a Silambam class, to equip the skills she might need in case she finds herself in a bad situation.

“‘I had a knack for silambam from a very young age. My mom used to say that I would have a stick and try to swirl it around. By the time I completed 10th standard, my father enrolled me in a summer camp and that is how my journey began,”’ said the teenager who is entering college this year.  The last few years have been eventful for Padma after she joined the class conducted by Agathiya Gnanam, a silambam master. While she was going to district-level tournaments before, now she has set her sights on national and international-level events.

Her first big win came at the 2017-18 National Silambam Championship, which she won. That was followed by a close second place finish at another national-level event that was organised by her master.  It was after her achievements that her school started supporting her, said Padma Shree. ‘”Currently, I practice silambam for four days in a week,”’ she added.

Speaking about her sister’s achievements, an elated Sushmi Shree, said, “‘Her determination to win is strong. Last year, she had a ligament tear in one of her legs just three weeks before a tournament that was held in Malaysia. Although all of us told her not to prepare for it and asked her to rest, Padma did not. In the end, with a torn ligament and the associated pain that comes with it, she won the championship. That is testament to her grit.’ ”

Padma Shree is also an athlete and currently, she is part of her college shot put team. She vividly remembers winning a mini marathon while she was in her kindergarten and bagging gold in a State-level relay event while she was in class five.  Asked what her future plans are, the champ says she wants to keep practising silambam and go with the flow. ‘”It is part of our tradition. It is in our hands to keep it alive,”’ Padma said.

‘My father is the one who must be credited for my achievements. “He enrolled me in the class and takes me to the tournaments, no matter where they take place,’” she added.  Nalini, Padma’’s mother summed up very nicely about the current state of affairs. ‘”In this day and age, women need safety. Silambam is a traditional defence method and every one must learn it. Those who practise it will be more fit and now that my daughter has become very good at it, I can send her out without any worries,”’ said she.

Padma Shree’’s father can be contacted at 9840916426.