Nearly a month after her skills went viral on social media, Pune’s ‘warrior Aaji’ (warrior grandmother) Shanta Balu Pawar, who once eked out a living by performing lathi-kathi on city streets, is now a martial arts and self-defence trainer for children. In an open space on the premises of a city institute, 30 students will soon be learning the skills of lathi-kathi from the 85-year-old for free.
Actor Sonu Sood, who had approached Pawar a month ago and offered help so that she could impart her skills to children, has supported her monetarily. Meanwhile, local corporator Yogesh Dattatray Sasane, along with social group Nirmitee, helped Pawar find a suitable space to teach children. The soon-to-be training ground on the premises of Savali Foundation was inaugurated on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi on Saturday.
Amid the construction of her new house in Karad, Pawar said she was looking forward to teaching the children. “I attended the inauguration event… some children of the area had also visited and I demonstrated the art. They grasped the skill very fast and are eager to learn,” she said
A month ago, Pawar’s performance on the street was captured and posted online on social media by Marathi actor Aishwarya Kale. Soon after the video went viral, Pawar received help from many prominent individuals including state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh and actor Riteish Deshmukh.
Nirmitee, which was trying to find a space where the classes could be held, approached Sasane Nagar corporator Yogesh Dattatray Sasane and finalised a space in the Savali Foundation premises.
“Aaji lives close to where I stay, and I got to know more about her after the viral video… within some days, I was approached by volunteers of Nirmitee and I readily offered to give Aaji space to conduct her classes for lathi-kathi,” said Sasane.
He added that while the initial plan entailed Sood helping Aaji with the rental expenses, Sasane suggested that instead, the funds should be given to Aaji every month while the classes are conducted for free.
“The existing premises of Savali Foundation is for recreational and development activities for women, such as karate, yoga, teaching, parlour training and computer classes. I proposed that I will give the open space to her for free, and the help from Sonu Sood goes directly to Aaji,” said Sasane.
For now, the classes will be held three times a week, an hour for each session, with a mixed batch of 30 students.
Sasane also said that on some days of the week, Aaji could to teach students in nearby schools in Sasane Nagar.
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