‘Be FIT, Stay HEALTHY, & Live HAPPY’- ACP Geetha Kulkarni at ‘SAREE RUN’ to mark IWD

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‘Be FIT, Stay HEALTHY, & Live HAPPY’- ACP (Traffic) Ms Geetha Kulkarni at ‘SAREE RUN’ to mark International Women’s Day held on Wednesday, 8 March 2023 at Dr TMA Pai Convention Centre, Mangaluru

Mangaluru: As they say, “a fit man is a fit man, but a fit woman is a fit family!” But for various reasons, women’s fitness is still not a priority in India, including Mangaluru. A vast majority of women still shy away from fitness, bowing to the Social pressure about attire. The general perception amongst women is fitness is only for a privileged few who have a lot of time and can wear activewear. The ‘SAREE RUN’ was an attempt to change the narrative that fitness needs specific attire. Embracing fitness should be easy without any inhibitions. The Saree Run was all about breaking the stereotypical thought process because we believe women’s fitness needs serious encouragement!

Every woman has unique strengths and qualities that make her special. And to celebrate womanhood, being a woman itself is a superpower! While most women were still in bed, cuddling with their partners or children or pillows, a few hundred early-to-bed and early-to-rise women got up early, adorned themselves in glittering sarees, some looking gorgeous in their make-up and jewellery, assembled in the premises of Dr TMA Pai Convention Centre, MG Road, Mangaluru between the morning hours of 6 am-6.30 am to take part in the ‘SAREE RUN 2023’ organized by S & H (Soujanya Hegde) and M & M (Medals & More) in association with KMC Hospital, Mangaluru; Hotel Ocean Pearl, Mangaluru; Mangalore Runners Club; with sponsorship by Ideal Ice Cream, Bindu, Harsha, Jayalakshmi-the Bridal Destination, Sunflower Oil, among others, and Mangalorean.com as Media Partner.

Women between the ages of 25- 50 and seniors between 60- 75 were all excited for this fun event, which was an initiative to help women overcome social discomfort in embracing fitness. It was a unique run which aimed to break stereotypes about women and fitness. It was a RUN, WALK or JOG for a good cause. Yes, Saree is a traditional Indian outfit, which accentuates the beauty of Indian women of all ages and forms. Whether it is about any festival occasion or wedding occasion, you can go with these beautiful outfits to look the most elegant and beautiful. This outfit has now got global recognition, with many international celebrities endorsing it by wearing saree at international events.

Sarees are a hot favourite among Indian celebrities too, in addition to being the staple outfit of the common woman in the country. The market is flooded with a large number of saree brands, which specialize in diverse varieties such as cotton, silk, net, georgette, chiffon and many more designer sarees. In Indian tradition and culture, the saree has always been a special costume that women love to wear regularly and for some special functions. And this morning, we saw these pretty women all attired in colourful sarees, not for any festive or wedding occasion, but to Walk, Run or Jog – sounds strange but true! The legacy and love of every Indian woman for Sarees are undeniable. Fitness is a choice that doesn’t depend on your selection of clothing! Through The Saree Run, the organizers intended to emphasize that running is for everyone.

You can balance your life and take care of your well-being in a saree- and that’s exactly what these women did this morning, by breaking some barriers and having some fun too, they all brought their unstoppable spirit to the sport of running, clad exclusively in sarees. Dressed in colourful sarees, you’d never think that these women were there to run or walk a couple of kilometres early in the morning, starting from Dr TMA Pai Convention Centre, and proceeding om MG Road, Lalbagh, Ladyhill, Mannagudda, and back to the starting point- But that’s exactly what was happening. Before the walk and run, they warmed up with a dance/exercise session choreographed by Ms Namritha of ‘Studio 6’, with support from Sushanth of Zuese Fitness Club.

The Saree Run was flagged off and balloons were released in the air by chief guest ACP (Traffic) Ms Geetha Kulkarni, who addressed the crowd and said, “This is indeed a great opportunity for women to walk and run irrespective of age, for a healthy lifestyle. Events like these will surely encourage women to come forward and unleash their talents. You need to make your ‘ Body and Mind’ your best friend. Wondering if running is good for you? There’s no doubt about it. Given the blood, sweat, and tears (well, mainly sweat) involved in the workout, it’s understandable if you’ve never been a fan of running. But given the go-to cardio activity’s laundry list of benefits, you may want to give it another chance. My compliments to the organizers for this unique event, and to all the women for taking up the gauntlet to participate in this event. All I have to say to you is that “Be FIT, Stay HEALTHY and Live HAPPY”.

Speaking to Team Mangalorean, anchor and celebrity Ms Soujanya Hegde, the Organizer of the event said, ” A vast majority of women think fitness is only for a privileged few who can wear activewear, shorts etc and hence they shy away from fitness. This compromises their fitness because social pressure about attire has a huge impact on their health. We are sure this experience will motivate these ladies to take up fitness, in ways possible to them. This is an initiative to help women overcome social discomfort in embracing fitness. This is an awareness programme on keeping oneself healthy and fit because keeping fit is very important for women as well. There is a feeling among most women that only a certain type of dress should be worn during exercise. To let women know that even wearing a saree it is possible to run or exercise, we had planned this “Saree Run”, and I am happy to note that a large number of women of all ages had joined in this event, to make it a successful venture, even though it was a weekday”.

“This was my first saree run and a positive experience. It was great to see women come together to celebrate fitness while having their unique style of draping it,” gushed Ms Sushma, an IT professional. “Here, one is not bound to wear different sportswear, instead, we could freely participate in sarees. Age is just a number when you can do whatever you can even in your golden age,” said 68-year-old Shirley Fernandes, a homemaker and grandma of nine grandkids, who ran in this event with her two daughters.

Truly this event was to create awareness and encourage women to break the stigma over traditional attire and fitness. The aim was to bridge the gap between their social obligations and personal need for fitness and self-empowerment. The idea was to encourage women to take up running and show that one could do it while wearing a saree. By doing so, they take charge of their health while overcoming any social restrictions they have in terms of clothing.

Women in their sarees waved at onlookers as their Walk & Run took away the limelight on a weekday morning. A group of auto-rickshaw drivers had the privilege to take a snap with a bevvy of women runners, and these men in khaki simply overjoyed for a few minutes for the chance of a lifetime. Ms Chaitanya Rao, a lecturer said, “When I started running four years ago, there was no one to guide me or to tell me that it’s fine to exercise and be comfortable in your daily wear Churidar or saree. I saw everyone had switched to western sports outfits and shoes and I shopped for some running clothes. I started with oversized t-shirts and pants as I was not comfortable with shapely clothes and was afraid of how I would be perceived by family and others watching me run”. She adds that sports have taught her many life lessons, and given her the much-needed confidence to slide in any form of clothing.

But unlike Chaitanya, a lot of women are apprehensive to wear a tracksuit or shorts for their workout regime. As a lecturer, she shares that such initiatives catalyse a change of mindset in society and encourages women to not be afraid of how they are perceived when they run. While training women and underprivileged children for overall fitness throughout the year, the only clothing some of them had was a Churidar or saree, so we switched to Indian outfits and chappals ourselves during these walking sessions, she adds.!

Participation certificates and medals were given to all the participants. Prizes were distributed to the three winners, namely – Dr Anupama Rao (1st place), Ms Revathi Shendure (2nd place) and Ms Sujatha (3rd place). Ms Amitha D’souza and her team members from Mangalore Runners Club played a vital role in the navigation of the Run, while gorgeous and glamorous Ms Hera Pinto and Ms Sharmila Amin meticulously and eloquently compered the event with their witty punchlines, and kept the crowd lively.

When you see a woman walking on the roads in a saree, you appreciate the handloom/silk that she is flaunting. A saree can transform from casual to formal and be comfortable and stylish at the same time! It is a liberating outfit. Running in a saree is a tribute to women who take up modern roles and still dare to uphold traditions and culture. Through this Saree Run, the organizers intended to empower and encourage women to take part in the Saree run by draping our vibrant culture around them! Kudos to multi-talented Soujanya Hegde and her team for putting up a fabulous event-You Go, Girls!

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