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India Girls Storm Into Gatka Territory


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
LUDHIANA: Whoever thought gatka (Sikh martial arts) is a boy thing needs to see Gursimran Kaur and Mandeep Kaur in action. On Friday, the sisters -- 12 and 17 years old respectively -- grabbed eyeballs with their stunts at a nagar kirtan that marked the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth guru of Sikhs.

Men stopped to gape as the young girls twirled the deadly looking ''chakra'' on their head. A few deft moves with the 'khanda' and 'dhaal' (traditional weapons), and people are clear that they can't mess with these dare-devil belles.

Arousing even more interest for the show was 4-year-old Japanpreet Singh who displayed that he is tough fight against big boys in the group.

While Gursimran is a student of class VI in Atam Dev Niketan, her elder sister Mandeep is studying in class XII in Sargoda School. Japanpreet Singh is in LKG.

Talking to TOI Gursimran said she started learning ''gatka'' for two years and has been performing in religious processions. ''I really wanted to learn ''gatka' since childhood and asked my father to allow me to learn,' she said. About how it feels when people look at her in astonishment, she said, ''I am proud that I can perform at par with the boys. I really like it when people appreciate my performance.''

Mandeep, on the other hand, said she was not interested in ''gatka'', but got inspired after seeing her younger sister perform stunts fearlessly. ''I started learning one month after Gursimran and now I love it.' Mandeep, who also performs at inter-school level, said, '' I get a huge kick when our team defeats boys in the competition. I trained at a local gurdwara.'

Papinder Singh, their father, said everyone in his circle appreciates his daughters. ''People say daughters are a burden for parents but my daughters are my strength. I feel secure that my girls can take care of themselves in case of any situation,' he said. Meanwhile, Japanpreet's father Iqbal Singh said his son had started training in ''gatka'' as soon as he started walking. ''He has been performing for the past two-and-a-half-years and we feel proud every time we see him perform,' Iqbal said.



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