Stick-fighting 'warrior aaji' from Pune gets praises, help from social media

Updated: Jul 26, 2020, 18:14 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Pune

Shantabai Pawar was seen in the video showing her exemplary moves of stick fighting on the streets of Pune to earn money for her family

A screengrab from the video shared by ANI on Twitter
A screengrab from the video shared by ANI on Twitter

An 85-year-old woman from Pune is being showered with praises and help from netizens amid the COVID-19 pandemic after a video of her showcasing her talent in stick-fighting went viral on social media, earning her the name 'warrior aaji' or 'warrior grandmother'. The video has been shared by many celebrities, praising her talent.

The woman, identified as Shantabai Pawar, was seen in the video showing her exemplary moves of stick fighting on the streets of Pune to earn money for her family. “Walking the tightrope, balancing on a bottle or the Lathi-Kathi is my family’s legacy. I learnt the skills from my father when I was eight, and that is something I am taking forward. This is our family’s source of bread and butter. After my father passed away, I inherited the lathis and even today, they are with me whenever I go out for my work,” Pawar was quoted as saying by Indian Express.

With the pandemic leaving street-performers without work, Pawar took it upon herself to earn money to survive, even as she was told that she is putting her health at risk. “There were several people who told me that since I am old, I should not be going out as I am more prone to coronavirus. But, to see my grandchildren fight off hunger in such circumstances is something I could not bear,” she was quoted as saying.

Even as Pawar earns an average of Rs 200 to Rs 300 whenever she performs on the street, the lockdowns made things difficult for her. "Stores stopped giving me groceries. Since it was impossible to make ends meet in a large family that includes several small children, I decided to display my stick-fighting skill on the roads so that patrons would give money," she said.

Pawar has also worked in Bollywood films with her family members as a background performer. With her video going viral on social media, she has been noticed by celebrities such as  Sonu Sood, Riteish Deshmukh, Randeep Hooda as well as Pune police commissioner K Venkatesam. After the video went viral, social groups Nirmitee and Shivneri Trust approached her with aid for her family.

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