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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Savitribai Phule birth anniversary: Some facts about the social reformer, poetess and teacher

Her birthday is known as 'Balika Din' in Maharashtra, and is celebrated in many girls' schools.

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
January 3, 2022 12:30:24 pm
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Of the many heroes that India has produced, Savitribai Phule is an unforgettable name etched in the minds of many. She was a social reformer, an educationalist and poetess from the state of Maharashtra, who fought for women’s rights. She is regarded as the mother of Indian feminism. Today, on January 3, we celebrate her 191st birthday.

As such, here are some lesser-known facts about the first female teacher of the country.

Phule was born in 1831 in a village called Naigaon in Satara District, Maharashtra. She was the daughter of Lakshmi and Khandoji Nevase Patil, who went on to marry social activist Jyotirao Phule. While the couple had no children of their own, they are said to have adopted Yashawantrao.

At that time, she was illiterate and received education from her husband at home. After primary education, she even received higher education, before enrolling herself in two teacher’s training programs. It can, therefore, be said that she was India’s first woman teacher and also a headmistress.

Her birthday is known as ‘Balika Din’ in Maharashtra, and is celebrated in many girls’ schools. Phule was always vocal about inhuman and unjust practices that persecuted women and young girls. She was unafraid to raise her voice against practices like sati and child marriage.

After finishing her education, she first taught girls at Maharwada in Pune, alongside Sagunabai who was also a revolutionary feminist. At one point, Savitribai and her husband ran three schools for girls in Pune. But, it was met with resistance.

The couple had to face ostracism from their community. In fact, it is said that Savitribai had to carry an extra sari to work every day because she would often get assailed by orthodox members of the society who would throw stones and dung her way.

Besides pushing for female education, the reformer also raised her voice against the caste system, which exists in our country even today. She advocated for inter-caste marriages, and along with her husband, founded the ‘Satyashodhak Samaj’, which organised marriages without priests and dowry.

The poetess would also speak in favour of widows and fought to stop the practice of shaving their heads. She died at the age of 66 in Pune, during the bubonic plague. Her legacy, however, continues to move and inspire us.

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