“Embrace this art form and it will eventually start embracing you”, says Kajal Srivastava, a Kalari Martial Artist. Kalari is an age-old martial art about which Kajal aims to spread knowledge all over India so that people start accepting and embracing it as a fitness regime. Kajal has been published by various national journals like The Hindu, Vanitha, and a German journal called Deutschland funk kultur.
In her interview with Storiyaan, Kajal shares various aspects of her life and what brought her closer to this art form. She goes on to talk about various dietary habits to lead a healthy lifestyle and gives her view on obesity and body-image. Have a look at this interview to know more.
Questions and answers
When you left your preparation to invest yourself in this art, what was the reaction from your friends and family?
My journey of UPSC was not a normal journey, and surely not a successful one. It was a story of failure. I saw my biggest fear standing in front of me and I didn’t want to live my life believing that I am a failure. started to invest myself in my art and I could see that my family was proud of me. I’m blessed to have friends who are the reason I never gave up on myself.
When you initially adopted it as your area of focus, what were the hurdles that you had to overcome to sustain your passion as well as your purse?
I remember the day I decided to give this my entire focus and attention and I had the most peaceful sleep after years. A couple of days later, my teacher called me and asked me if I can help him with administration in his kalaripayattu organisation as I was one of the sincere students. This is how I started and frankly, I’m glad I didn’t have to go through severe hurdles.
Tell us about some of the methods that you have adopted to bring the art of Kalari to the spotlight and how do you intend to play your role in expanding it further?
Kalari is an ancient form of martial art and you could call it a complete way of life. It inculcates courage and confidence in you. I want to make it feasible and reachable as much as possible. I try to remove stigmas surrounding it in whatever way possible. I want every Indian to take pride in it and treasure Kalari as it belongs to our land.
You provide a lot of healthy recipes and dietary tips to your followers. Tell us a bit about how your research before creating each recipe and what is the one dietary peeve that you avoid at all costs?
Maida is the key ingredient that is killing the youth. When I visited a locality in Delhi, it hurt me to see that the kids were so negligent about their health. It’s one peeve that I always try to avoid.
In the case of diet, I always resort to the basic Indian diet which is a very balanced diet and also good for health. We need to believe in our Indian food system. It’s made according to the climate of the country.
As an advocate for physical and spiritual health, a lot of people today are victims of health problems arising from obesity, as well as obesity as a result of health issues. What would be your message for them?
Obesity is under the category of a health problem, and not a social taboo that causes even more stress to the body. We’ve to target the social conventions that we’re told. We should learn to regulate the weight and not reduce it. The reduction doesn’t necessarily mean a healthier body. I was obese when I went into depression. Even today I don’t have a perfect body, but it’s balanced. I got rid of my thyroid, I got rid of obesity. Everything happened because of my elevated self-confidence. Correct eating, correct drinking, correct moving is what will ensure a healthy body.
Could you tell us a bit about the “Tavasi Movement” and its social empowerment aspect?
Tavasi Movement is my way of breaking the barrier of social conditioning. People like me who had failed in an exam, feel like a failure and settle for something less deserving. This initiative is to make them believe in themselves. I want to bridge the gap between a man and a woman, poverty-stricken and middle-aged, homosexual and heterosexual. Physical fitness is deeply connected with spiritual and emotional health. Kalari had given me a second life and I’ve grown so much. This is my Tavasi movement.
Your videos provide a detailed and graphic description of the importance and benefits of Kalari. But how safe is it for a beginner trying to learn it at home and could you provide some tips for your reader who are trying to emulate this art in their daily lives?
Kalari is probably the safest fitness regime you can inculcate. A person who has never moved can begin with Kalari. One thing that keeps it away from other fitness regimes is it conditions the body, and teaches it to learn how to fight. It’s very safe for everyone and Kalari adapts everybody in every aspect. The first tip is to be very very patient with this art. Kalari chooses you. You have to articulate your body in a very slow manner. You’ll not be able to sustain if you don’t have the patience.