Meenakshi Amma

Meenakshi Amma (born 1941) is a practitioner and teacher of Kalaripayattu, the traditional martial arts form of Kerala, India. In 2017, she received Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian award.[1][2] She is from Vadakara, a town in northern Kerala. Every year, 150-160 students learn the martial arts in her school Kadathanadan Kalari Sangam, where she is teaching for more than 56 years.[3][4] Meenakshi Amma was introduced to Kalaripayattu at the age of seven under V P Raghavan Master, whom she married at the age of 17. After her husband's death in 2007, Meenakshi Amma took over the reins of the Kadathanattu Kalari Sangham established by her husband.[5] She is well-versed in using all the weapons ranging from the stick to the urumi, which even the experts find difficult to master.[6][7][8]

The Kalari, which is visited by many students even from abroad, still maintains the traditional value system. There is no fee for the classes and money is accepted in the form of dakshina and expenses for the oil used in Kalari.[9]

Meenakshi Amma's family is also into Kalarippayattu. Her two sons and two daughters also started practicing payattu from the young age of six. One of her sons is also a 'Gurukkal'( kalaripayattu teacher) now.[10]


  1. ^ "Six decades on, 74-year-old Padma Shri awardee Gurukkal still swirling the sword". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  2. ^ Chethana Prakasan (27 January 2017). "Meet Padmashree 2017 award winner Meenakshi Amma: This granny with a sword will inspire you to stay active". Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  3. ^ "Padma Shri Awards: Meenakshi Amma: Granny with a sword". 25 January 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  4. ^ "Meet Kerala's 'Iron Lady': Meenakshiamma, the 73-year-old Kalaripayattu maestro | Video | Meenakshiamma | Kalaripayattu | Vatakara | Kozhikode | Kerala | Kadathanad | Martial arts | kalari | traditional martial arts". 25 August 2016. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Defying age with a sword: Meenakshi Gurrukkal, Kerala's grand old Kalaripayattu dame". The News Minute. 6 February 2016. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  6. ^ "The fight for betterment". Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  7. ^ "Watch: 76-yr-old woman performs martial arts with man half her age". The Indian Express. 27 June 2016. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  8. ^ Kadapa, Surekha. "Kerala's Kalaripayattu Lady Is the Oldest Woman to Practice the Martial Art". Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  9. ^ "Padma awards: Moment of glory for Kerala | Kochi News - Times of India". Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  10. ^ "Padma Shri honour for Meenakshi Amma - Kerala's oldest woman KalariGurukkal now in her seventies". 22 February 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2018.