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  Jul 31, 2021


Q. Why  is this in news?

A. Recently, an Indian named Ganesan Sandhirakasan has won the top prize in a government-initiated competition for migrant workers in Singapore for his performance of Silambam.

Q. What is Silambam?

  • Silambam is an ancient weapon-based martial art that emerged in Tamilakam, which is now Tamil Nadu region of India. It is one of the oldest martial arts in the world.
  • The term Silambam contains a meaning which itself reveals about the sport, silam stands for a ‘mountain’ and bam stands for bamboo which is the main weapon used in this form of martial arts.
    • It is closely linked to the Kerala martial art kalaripayattu.
  • Foot movement are key elements to silambam and kutta varisai (empty hand version). There are sixteen movements needed to master the movement of the foot to keep pace with the movement of the stick.
  • The main goal of the training is to defend the user against several armed opposition.

Q. What are the Weapons Used?

A. Bamboo staff- It is the main weapon and the length of the bamboo staff depends on the height of the practitioner.\

Maru- a thrusting weapon which is made from horns of deer.

Aruva (sickle), Savuku (a whip), Vaal (curved sword), Kuttu Katai (spiked knuckle duster), Katti (knife), Sedikuchi (cudgel or short stick).

Q. How is it originated?


  • It is believed to have originated somewhere around 1000 BC and it was brought by the sage Agastya Munivar.
  • Sillappadikkaram and many other works of Sangam literature mentions about the practice and it dates back to 2nd century BC whereas oral folk tales traces it back even further around 7000 years.

  • But according to recent surveys and archaeological excavations, it has been confirmed that Silambam was practiced from at least 10,000 BC.

Q. What about its status of Ban and Evolution?


  • It was employed in warfare by most rulers of south India. The soldiers of the Tamil ruler Veerapandiya Kattabomman used silambam to wage war against the British colonists, there was a ban on it by the end of the 18th century.
  • The ban, coupled with the introduction of firearms, did affect the combative nature of silambam greatly and due to which it has transformed into a performance art