KADAPA: Konduru Venkata Ramaraju and Sunanda wanted their girls to stand on their own and face the world with confidence. They spared their daughters the additional burden of restrictions an average Indian girl has to bear only because they are females. Instead, the couple, living in Rajula Colony, Rayachoti, brought them up as self-reliant individuals. Today both the sisters, Varshita (18) and Akhila (14), are experts in Silambam, a traditional martial art form of south India, and have won several tournaments. Their intention to learn Silambam, incidentally, was not to win laurels. “The basic objective was selfdefence. By learning martial arts, one can save oneself. Further, learning Silambam strengthens one physically and mentally,” Varshita said.
Rural youth hold hidden talents: Coach
Having completed her intermediate from Raju Education Academy, Varshita is now planning to pursue engineering. Her sister is a Class 9 student of the Zilla Parishad High School at Gorlamudiveedu village in Rayachoti mandal. The sisters, along with a dozen other girls, started learning Silambam four years ago under Narasaraju, the Physical Education Teacher of the ZP High School. They have participated in various Silambam competitions held in Kadapa, Kakinada, Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi, and awed the spectators with their flexibility, speed, strength, stamina and techniques.
Both the sisters bagged gold medals at the school games held in Kadapa and Varshita topped the state-level competitions held in Kakinada in 2019. Akhila said learning Silambam inculcates self-discipline, besides equipping the practitioner to concentrate better.
“Most importantly, it gives one confidence,” she said. Both the sisters opined that more women should learn self-defence techniques and the government should make it part of sports and games, and bring it under sports quota. Incidentally, moves are afoot in Tamil Nadu to include Silambam under the 3% sports quota. Coach Narasaraju said there are hidden talents among rural youth needing an opportunity.