Silambattam is experiencing a revival and is becoming very popular in Chennai. A person in the know mentioned that adding silambam to the list of sports for recognition and government jobs quota has accelerated the process.
The number of trainees on beaches and parks is seeing a visible increase. It is heartening to see that the number of girls taking to this sport is also steadily increasing.
On my morning walk, I was happy to see a bunch of youngsters practicing Silambam in the newly minted plaza near Indira Nagar MRTS station. The next day, I also met Mr. Raghunathan the man who initiated this program. He says the children come voluntarily from the neighbouring area. They are required to pay Rs 300 per month. Mr. Raghunathan says that otherwise, they will not have the seriousness and self-discipline. Not all of them pay regularly. Yet, he spends part of the amount collected for the staff (kambu), T-shirts, etc. He has plans to provide shoes too.
Though the programme is an individual initiative, I hope it will sustain to provide some healthy outlet and discipline for the underprivileged children in the neighbourhood.
Silambam or Silambattam (சிலம்பம் or சிலம்பாட்டம்) is an ancient form of martial arts from the Tamil region of Southern India traceable to Saint Agastya. That makes it arguably one of the oldest style of martial arts. The kalaripayattu of the Kerala region is also closely associated with it. Interestingly, the Chinese Shaolin style of martial arts is said to have derived its inspiration from Silambam through Bodhidharma who visited China in the 6th Century from India.