There were many participating marathon race with utmost enthusiasm and energy. But there was one unique candidate attracting everyone’s attention. She is Jayanthi Sampathkumar. She enjoys the pride of being the first lady to participate in the marathon wearing a sari. Recently she participated in a race, 42 km marathon completing it in 5 hours in Hyderabad, with Madisar sari, a unique style of wearing the sari by a specific community in Tamil Nadu. We spoke with her over mobile.
“Though I live in Hyderabad, my native is Chennai. I have a collection of saris from every state of India. But because of my profession I could not wear most of them. One day my husband was commenting that only my cupboard was wearing all my saris. I felt it was true in a sense. From then on I decided to wear all my collections to my office.
I always have a preference for handloom saris. No one could realize the efforts by the weavers who make those saris. I intended to spread the significance of those saris among the common people. I have been participating in athletics for the past ten years and in marathon race for the last one year with that intention. I thought I should run marathon wearing handloom saris with an objective to throw light on the uniqueness of those saris”. She then shared the reason for wearing Madisar saris too.
“My mother and grandmother used to carry out all tasks at home wearing Madisar. But of late people are skeptical about wearing saris and doing specific tasks. I wanted to break that notion. So I decided to run marathon wearing saris. But I was wondering what style I should follow. I practiced following different styles like Andhra, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. And I felt Madisar is suitable for running.
Every day by 5 o’clock I used to practice marathon with Madisar. Since April I would have practiced almost for 100 km. I should thank my parents and husband for being so supportive to my intent. They used to take care of the daily chores at home including making my kids ready for school as I used to spend my morning time on practicing.
Another important reason to participate in the marathon race is the footwear. At first I wanted to try with bear foot only. But while practicing so I used injure my feet with stones, thorns and other sharps. So, I started wearing ordinary chappals, avoiding shoes.
On the day of competition when I ran in saris, many noticed me, as expected. As there is none who ran marathon in saris so far, we are working on placing my achievement on Guinness. I am happy to have the attention from media encouraging my intention and action. Through this I wanted to convey a key message. ‘Let us celebrate saris and support weavers’. Thus Jayanthi concluded with high spirit.
(This article written in Tamil by MR Shobana has been reproduced in English by V Amalan Stanley)