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Usha Working To Revive 'Mardani Khel' In Maharashtra

Usha Working To Revive 'Mardani Khel' In Maharashtra

For a long time now, Usha has been actively involved in diverse sports and activities. In line with its steadfast commitment to championing local and regional cultures, Usha has undertaken the initiative to revive forgotten sports. The goal is to reintroduce these lost sporting activities to the people of those regions. Mardani Khel is one such martial sport that Usha is working to revive, in the heart of Maharashtra.

Pune, often referred to as the 'Cultural Capital of Maharashtra,' is a testament to that. There are echoes of history in every nook and corner of Pune, and the cityscape itself narrates tales of a bygone era.

In honour of that history, Usha Play has teamed up with the Kasturba Gandhi Memorial Trust, Tulja Bhavani Mardani Khel, and Prashikshan va Sanskrutik Seva Sanstha, Pune to revive an old indigenous sport of Maharashtra– Mardani Khel.

Also Read: In Tamil Nadu's Kanyakumari, Adimurai, A Martial Art Form Is Making A Come Back

Paresh Narayan Nagpure, State Manager, Maharashtra and Goa at Usha International Limited said,

We have covered 25 districts of Maharashtra through our Silai School program. Having organised two events already, our Silai School women know how to put together an event and the responsibilities involved. So, we, along with the women met the organisation and explained to them our purpose of conducting a sporting event and how they can support us. After getting them on board, we were able to organise state level Mardani Khel tournament.

'Mardani Khel' is a weapon-based Indian martial art, known especially for its use of the traditional Indian arms, Patta and Vita, a sword and corded lance or spear. It was developed by Maratha warriors who were skilled in the use of its special weapons and light armour specially made for their build and the hilly terrain of the relatively short builds. Even after the introduction of guns, Maratha warriors carried weapons other than guns.

Ravindra Bhausaheb Jagdale, President of the Tulja Bhavani Mardani Khel and Prashikshan va Sanskrutik Seva Sanstha, Pune said,

Mardani Khel, Maharashtra's native martial sport involves the combined use of one's hands, feet and brain to improve physical fitness. In our history, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was supported by the weapons he used and the practise of this native martial art in creating the Maratha Empire.

And now, in contemporary times, the women of the USHA Silai School are also playing a crucial role in promoting martial art, by participating in the organisation of the USHA State Level Open Mardani Khel Tournament.

Also Read: In Haryana, 'Usha Gatka Championship' Is Reviving The Lost Form Of Self-Defence

Yogita Dattray, Trainer at Usha Silai School in Pune said,

Women and men should exercise. We have become economically empowered, but physical fitness and self-defence are also very important. We conduct sewing classes in our village. After the class, we spend time promoting events and involving other women as well. Since I am the head of the village, organising the classes and promoting the tournament was easy. I just want all women to be strong and capable in every way and to also keep exercising.

Beyond the physical aspects, Mardani Khel is a powerful cultivator of social values. Its practice involves social interaction, promotes teamwork, instills the principles of sportsmanship and also creates gender sensitisation.

Dr Manisha Gupte, Trustee of Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust added,

For women to step out of their homes and play a sport seems like a big thing for women. Because they are made to wear sarees and get married at an early age. Then the responsibility of the whole family is on them. Our girls are very talented. They have even been to the Olympics. These skills and talents should be used in playing outside the house and building one's health. When women enter these conventionally male spaces, it brings a lot of change in their lives. We underestimate the importance of sports, but it is very beneficial for women.

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These women coordinated with the Usha Silai School team, organisers, and attendees to plan the event and worked in cooperation with Mardani Khel groups to rally spectators and participants. During the tournament, they also helped women install the Usha Silai mobile app so they could learn sewing skills in their own time.

Yogita Dattray added,

I spread awareness about this event in the Gram Sabha meeting held in the village and told the learners that there is this program in which you can participate. We organised it through our Silai School.

The collective efforts of USHA's collaboration with the Kasturba Gandhi Memorial Trust, Tulja Bhavani Mardani Khel, and Prashikshan va Sanskrutik Seva Sanstha are not merely about bringing this sport back to life; they symbolise a cultural renaissance, a nod to traditions that were once fading away.

Ravindra Bhausaheb Jagdale added,

Every person coming here knows that this is the martial art of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. This is our martial art that kept Maharashtra alive. The popularity of this sport extended to the north, including Delhi.

Also Read: Usha Play, Promoting A Healthy And Active Lifestyle With Yoga

This initiative is a dynamic cultural movement that encompasses various facets of community life. And the involvement of the women from the Usha Silai School is creating many additional layers of empowerment for them.

Talking about the need to revive Mardani Khel, Paresh Narayan Nagpure from Usha International Limited said,

Today's generation is forgetting our roots and culture. This is a small effort from the Usha to remind today's youth of our culture and promote this sport, to keep it alive. We are not just making our women economically self-sufficient but also teaching them self-defence so they can protect their families. This is our effort to promote the sport for our women.

This collaboration, in the footsteps of Usha's many others, to revive indigenous sports across the country is evidence of the transformative influence of cultural rejuvenation and communities coming together.

As we bid farewell to this wonderful exploration of Mardani Khel in Pune, it serves as a reminder that customs endure and that through communities, new life can be brought to age-old customs. This marks the start of a fresh cultural narrative rather than the conclusion of an event. Until the next cultural odyssey, let the spirit of the USHA Silai School women continue to inspire and empower us all.

Also Read: In Odisha's Rourkela, Women Are Stitching A Life Of Financial Independence With Usha

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Do you want to be a part of the huge change that Usha Silai School is bringing about in the lives of millions of rural women? With just a simple click of a button, you can now contribute towards the opening of an Usha Silai School or support various other aspects of the school.

About the Initiative

About the Initiative

Kushalta Ke Kadam, an initiative by USHA Silai School and NDTV has entered its eighth season. The aim is to empower more women across rural India by teaching them sewing skills and helping them open new doors of opportunities for themselves. The initiative encourages rural women to become financially independent and entrepreneurs by taking up sewing and training others in their respective communities.


Since 2011, the USHA Silai School initiative has trained more than 12 lakh rural women through over 33,000 Silai schools, spanning over 20,751 villages across India.


The women earn Rs. 4,000 – 5,000 per month on an average, with the highest recorded monthly earning being Rs. 84,000 in a month. This earning works as a catalyst towards building their self-confidence, reducing gender inequities, and raising their stature within their families and in society at large.


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In Pics

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching
Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Rebari girls grow up learning traditional embroidery, which along with their new found sewing skills developed at Usha Silai Schools, is helping them earn a living.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Usha Silai School has empowered many rural women to support their family and send their children to school.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

The Usha Silai School, established in a small nondescript village that goes by the name of Kottai, is helping empower people from varied communities.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

The all-inclusive Usha Silai School Programme covers the entire nation from hamlets tucked between hills to villages cast by the sea.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Vegetables farmers from the Mizoram hills earn very little given the topography of the area. Usha Silai Schools have played an important part in this region by skilling women to financially contribute towards their households.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Usha Silai School learner Lucy has trained seven other women in her community, helping them to become financially independent.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Women like Kaviben from the nomadic Rebari community are finally laying down their roots as they begin to gain financial independence and thereby stability through Usha Silai School.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Usha Silai School, located in the Gujarat's Bhuj village, is enabling rural women to earn as much as Rs. 2,500-4,000 each month.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Usha Silai School, in association with a Gujarat based NGO called Kala Raksha, is trying to bring about a Silai revolution in Bhuj.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Besides training other women from their community, many Usha Silai School learners have become entrepreneurs in their own right.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

With sewing becoming easily accessible and lucrative, the silai schools are also helping revive traditional motifs and designs.