59-year-old from Chennai all set to create a Guinness record

Swathi Girija

“Actress Keerthy Suresh’s grandmother, Saroja, is my mentor and role model,” says Swathi Girija, a 59-year-old Bharatanatyam exponent.

A resident of Iyyappanthangal, Chennai, Swathi is also a professional yoga trainer. She has taught the dance form to over thousands of government school students and has won numerous accolades for her performances across the nation.

Currently, this enthusiast is gearing up for a Guinness attempt.

“I am planning to stage the longest dance and yoga performance. Many may think that it would not be possible for my age, but I am very confident that I can do it,” quips Swathi.

She often performs for six-long hours at local temple functions and is now undergoing rigorous practise for her new attempt.

“I once attended a friend’s Arangetram function and that is when I was drawn to the art form. Also, Keerthy’s grandma, who was my maths teacher, is a professional Manipuri dancer. She encouraged me to take up Bharatanatyam. At the age of six, I started learning classical dance and there has been no looking back since,” she reminisces.

“Many think Bharatanatyam is only for the elite and I wanted to break this notion. So I started taking classes for government school students for free. I have found amazing talents here, and these kids learn it with so much interest. I have trained over thousands of students till date and also make them participate in temple events,” she further states.

So, how and when did she become a yoga expert? In 1994, after a shoulder injury, Swathi started practising yoga and quickly become an expert in it. “Along with dance, I also began spreading awareness about yoga to people,” she says.

A writer, a journalist, a dancer and a yoga trainer – Swathi Girija seems to be an all-rounder. Sharing more about her childhood, she says, “My father was a prominent person in politics during Kamarajar’s rule. I used to tag him along to a number of meetings and political events. I have even rendered speeches at many such events headed by great leaders like Kamarajar and Anna.”

When asked about her passion for writing, Swathi says, “I have written numerous opinion pieces, based social taboos, in leading Tamil magazines. It was my father who brought out the writer in me, I was just 11 then. My first article was published when I was in my sixth standard.”

“In our nation, women’s talents get overlooked because of responsibilities at home. I got married and responsibilities followed, but that didn’t stop me from following my passion. I accept that family is important, but finding your purpose in life is even more important,” she signs off.

To support Swathi’s Guinness event, contact her at 73056 08394.

P T Usha