Most urban, young women today see the saree as a dress for special occasions. Compared to modern attire, the saree is rather restricting and limits one’s movements. Not to mention how difficult it is to get a perfect drape if you are a novice! But this video uploaded by Aishwarya Manivannan on National Handloom Day (August 7) might just change your mind about the versatility of the six-yard wonder and all that you can do wearing one. Silambam, for starters.
Watch Aishwarya rock the saree while performing this traditional martial art from Tamil Nadu:
‘Silambam’ or ‘Silambattam’ comes from the Tamil words ‘silam’ (hill) and ‘perambu’ (bamboo). The type of bamboo used to perform Silambam comes from the Kurinji hills in South India and the martial art is named after it.
Silambam is so ancient that it finds mention even in Sangam literature such as the ‘Silapathikaram’ and others, dating its origins to as far back as the 2nd century BC.
According to myth, sage Agastya was on his way to Vellimalai, when he began a discussion on Hindu philosophy with a fellow traveller, an old man, who was really Lord Muruga in disguise. The old man taught the sage kundalini yoga and other techniques of controlling and channelizing energy in the body. Agastya practised these techniques and later compiled the learnings in three palm leaves. The basis for Silambam is said to have come from these compilations.
Other martial arts that are popular in South India, like Kalari payattu, Kuthu Varisai and Vaalveechu, are considered to be offshoots of Silambam.
The Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu has recognized Silambam as a sport and has introduced it in school education.
There are many varieties of Silambam and the ones that are in vogue currently are ‘Por Silambam’ (warfare), ‘Silambattam’ (folk dance) and ‘Potti Silambam’ (sport). Apart from the traditional stick that is used to perform this martial art, practitioners also use weapons like deer horns, spears, swords and small knives.
Silambam is making a come-back these days in cities as a novel way for fitness freaks to get a solid work-out. It’s said to be a great calorie burner that improves blood circulation and heart function, while shaping the body and relieving the mind of stress and fatigue. Saree or yoga pants, traditional or modern, if you’re looking to shed some pounds, Silambam might just be your answer!