Updated: January 5, 2022 7:21:44 am
Sindhutai Sapkal, better known as ‘Anathanchi Maye’ or ‘Mother of orphans’, passed away following a heart attack at a private hospital in Pune on Tuesday. She was 74. She was known for her work in raising hundreds of orphans, abandoned and destitute children, as well as towards rehabilitation of women.
Sindhutai died at 8.10 pm.
She had undergone a surgery on November 24 last year for a large diaphragmatic hernia. She had recovered well, but about a week ago, she developed a lung infection. She suffered a massive cardiac arrest on Tuesday and passed away, said Dr Shailesh Puntambekar, medical director of Galaxy Care hospital.
Her body will be kept for final respects at Manjiri ashram. The funeral will be held around 12 noon on Wednesday.
Paying tribute to Sindhutai, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Sindhutai Sapkal will be remembered for her noble service to society. Due to her efforts, many children could lead a better quality of life. She also did a lot of work among marginalised communities. Pained by her demise. Condolences to her family and admirers. Om Shanti”.
The life of Dr Sindhutai Sapkal was an inspiring saga of courage, dedication and service. She loved & served orphaned, tribals and marginalised people. Conferred with Padma Shri in 2021, she scripted her own story with incredible grit. Condolences to her family and followers. pic.twitter.com/vGgIHDl1Xe
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) January 4, 2022
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said, “The news of Sindhutai’s death is shocking. She gave motherly care to thousands of orphan children. In her sudden death, an inspirational personality has been taken away from the field of social work.” NCP chief Sharad Pawar said, “The kind of social work that Sindhutai has done will inspire generations to come.” Former CM Ashok Chavan said, “Sindhutai herself faced a difficult life but she worked relentlessly to uplift the lives of orphan and abandoned children. Her life is a source of inspiration for millions.”
Sindhutai was born in Wardha district of Maharashtra on November 14, 1948. She studied only up to class 4. She was married at the age of 10 to a man who was 30 years older to her.
After her marriage, she settled in Navargaon forest area of Wardha. During her pregnancy, a local landlord spread rumours about her, following which her husband abandoned her, her own family slammed the door on her and the community boycotted her. Sindhutai then gave birth to her child in a cowshed.
She made her living by singing and begging in trains. During this period of struggle, she realised that there were hundreds of children who needed a mother. It then changed the course of her life as she started adopting orphaned and abandoned children.
Sindhutai ran an orphanage – Sanmati Bal Niketan Sanstha – in Hadapsar area of Pune.
She had received more than 750 awards for her social work. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 2021, and the Ahilyabai Holkar Award in 2010 from the Maharashtra government. She had adopted more than 1,000 orphan children.
In 2010, a Marathi biopic of Sapkal titled Mi Sindhutai Sapkal Boltey was released in Maharashtra. “…for me she is still alive,” said Tejaswini Pandit, who played the role of Sindhutai in the biopic. “I am trying to come to terms with her death… She was sabki maye… a farishta (angel)…” Anant Mahadevan, director of the movie based on Sindhutai’s life, told a news channel.
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