Power of being Bhavani Devi

Power of being Bhavani Devi

In Hindu mythology, Bhavani is the Goddess with eight arms. Being the Goddess for power, justice and  emotion, she holds in her hands a bow and arrow, a sword and a mace.

The Bhavani Devi in news these days is not a mythological character. She is a real life athlete, who has fought her all her life for making a mark in the sport of fencing. At a media interaction facilitated by the Sports Authority of India recently, Bhavani spoke eloquently, laced with emotions, on her journey thus far.

Daughter of a HIndu priest and coming from a middle class family in Tamil Nadu, Bhavani’s rise to this level has been one of toil. By her own admission, she thought of chucking the lonely sport many times. Call it hard prayers and transmitting love and power to the daughter, Bhavani’s parents are the reason the  27-year-old girl is today the first Indian fencer who has made the cut for the Tokyo Olympics.

File photo of Bhavani Devi

In March, at the World Cup in Budapest, when Bhavani qualified, it was  a culmination of painstaking effort which was her way of thanking her parents for keeping her going. Images of Italian coach Nicola Zanotti celebrating with his award come to the mind as Bhavani breached a new barrier in  Indian sport.

The extremely polite Tamil girl, who spoke to the media with immense courtesy, did choke on a few questions when asked on her journey thus far and what her parents mean to her. Her father is no more but he is part of her life even today as she trains in Italy in solitude.

It is a very tough life to be a path breaker and then continue training, without seeing family. Her mother is in Chennai and has faced major Covid-19 issues. Yet, the supremely supportive mother ensured she was not going to snap her daughter’s training.

Bhavani spoke of almost everything. She has no pretensions in her maiden Olympic appearance she will be ripping apart her rivals in an intensely fascinating sport. From the time she trained with bamboos without proper equipment on her terrace in Chennai to where she is now, among the 32 to make the cut, is a big deal.

And that, when some famous Indians have failed to the cut in a sport like badminton.

Bhavani spoke of what she eats, sleeps and drinks. Her meals are simple and what she munches in between are protein bars. She does not touch sweets and milk. Her lunch and dinner do comprise some meat and vegetables, she said. Diet is important and she does take protein supplements as well.

Talk of inner strength, she has it in a large sum. She thought of quitting the sport a few times. And when she failed to make the team for the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, it was disappointing. “My mother was my source of energy and motivation,” she said. And that power ensured Bhavani Devi was rebooting and again gearing up.

Today she has support from the Indian government but this was not the story before. Her mother has never seen her compete abroad but only in competitions in India. Most recently, she competed in the Nationals in Rudrapur, just after winning her quota place in March.

“It’s a dream come true for me and my family. For me to be going to Tokyo means so much,” said Bhavani. This is the realisation of a dream of an entire family, which includes her brother Ghani. She does not have any competition before the Olympics but is not getting worked up over it. ” I will be training in Rome and fly out to Tokyo,” she said.

Bhavani knows millions will be cheering for her. It will include her father, who will be watching from above. A father who was doting and not the typified Appa from Tamil Nadu who may have wanted his daughter to settle down by the age of 27.

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