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78 and still Young, shares her passion for Bharatanatyam

In a culture-flooded country like India, it still comes as a shocker that we stereotype elderly people to give up on life. Who says that once they age, elderly people should restrict themselves within four walls and not bother the world? Who says that once they age, they cannot have goals to achieve or dreams to fulfill? Who says that once they age, they cannot walk through life on their own? Literally, who says?

It is biological that once we age, humans become weaker than before or less active than before, and we need a little support from our loved ones. However, these factors should not hold us back from dreaming, rather keep us motivated to live a little more.

In this stereotypical world, where elder people are expected to lose the motivation to live life to the fullest due to societal norms, Balukaben Ramanlal Patel, a 78 year young, tenacious woman from Surat, Gujarat, opened her doors of adventure and went on to achieve her dreams. It all started when she was only 58 years young, when she decided to pursue swimming, a sport that speaks stamina. She now holds more than 185 certificates, trophies and medals. This was just the beginning of her journey.

When she turned 68 years young, she decided to learn the beautiful performing art form of classical dance and elegance, Bharatanatyam. This is when she met Bhavnaben Patel, a 43 year young Bharatanatyam Guru, owner and founder of Chandramauli Dance Academy of Bharatanatyam, from Surat, who despite societal norms, understood Balukaben’s drive to dream big. She welcomed Balukaben into her class with open arms, whereas they both knew that it would not be an easy road.

Balukaben with her guru Bhavnaben Patel

To learn the basics, it took almost 15 days for Balukaben to get a good grasp which was kind of demotivating as for other students it took only a day or two. “The idea of quitting, it came every year.” Almost four years later, Balukaben was on the edge of giving up but no teacher would ever want her student to quit learning. It was Bhavnaben who held her hand and pushed her to go on. After months of hard work and practice, Balukaben excelled her exams and was told that she was finally ready to perform Arangetram, the debut on-stage performance of a former student. “I decided not to back down anymore.” From here, it was impossible to stop her. Her commitment made her practice for ten hours a day. A dedicated time investment of seven years brought her to successfully perform the Arangetram in 2019 when she was only 75 years young, marking the Limca Book of Records 2020-22 as the Oldest woman to have performed it. Keeping up the spirit, Balukaben is now pursuing MA in Bharatanatyam under the guidance of her guru, Bhavnaben Patel.

A true inspiration for not only the younger generation but also for our beloved elderly. They say that life is short, but it is people like Balukaben and Bahvnaben who show that life can be so much bigger than one can expect. It is only on you to make the move, to step out of those four walls and open your doors of adventure.

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