Sunita Behera, all of 23, is the founder of the first-all-women Paika Akhada Dal in Odisha. The ‘Paika Akhada’, is the traditional martial art form of Odisha. Practising this art-form not only changed Sunita’s way of thinking but also made her more confident and empowered to fight back.
The Akhada (arena) imparts training to women and girls and prepares them to protect themselves in any adverse situation in life. By doing this, the Akhada is taking forward the age-old martial art forms and also making women and girls stronger to fight back and protect themselves.
A once shy girl, Sunita has trained hundreds of girls through her institution ‘Kalinga Women Paika Akhada’.
Sunita and her team are now imparting training to girls for self-defence, physical fitness and competitive games. Beside, empowering the girls, Sunita is also promoting the skill across the country.
“We have constituted two teams, one with 12 members and another with seven members. Our prime objective is to make girls more confident and empower them to fight back during adverse situations and defend themselves in a variety of real-life scenarios,” said Sunita in a report on Women Odisha.
Always worried about safety and security, she was inspired to train herself and girls of her ilk when she heard stories of Karuvaki, a female warrior in Kalinga War.
“The character inspired me a lot. Like her, I too belong to a fishermen community. Perturbed over growing violence against women, I decided to focus on building confidence among young girls, teaching them self-defence and strategies that can save their lives during the crisis,” she says in a report in New Indian Express.
The members of Kalinga Kanya PaikaAkhada showcased their fighting skills for the first time at Gadakhurda and Maa Barunei shrine. Later, Sunita and her team were highly appreciated for their fighting skills in and outside the state.
Apart from taking part in district-level festivals and state-level Paika Akhada competitions, Sunita and her team showcased their talent in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Delhi and Kerala, and brought honour to the district at the national level, reported Orissa Post.
Here’s wishing Sunita and her team all the very best.
Cover photo: Representational image