An introduction to Nilaikalakki Silambam
The origin of Silambam
The art Nilaikalakki Silambam, which exists for more than five thousand years, is an authentic art which starts with the stick called Silambamboo (1.68 meters long). It originates from the Kurinji mountains of south India, and is as old as the Indian sub-continent itself.
The natives called Narikuravar were using a staff called Silambamboo as a weapon to defend themselves against wild animals, and also to display their skill during their religious festivals. The Hindu scholars and yogies who went to the Kurinji mountains to meditate got attracted by the display of this highly skilled spinning Silambamboo.
The art Nilaikalakki Silambam therefor became a part of the Hindu scholars and yogies training, as they were taught by the Narikuravar. They brought the art to the royal court during the reign of the Cheran, Cholan and Pandian emperors, once powerfull rulers of India.
Silambam is an exercise for physical and spiritual aspects in spreading Hinduism to the people. Competition was held to promote the art of Silambam during royal birthdays, handsome rewards were given to the champions of Silambam exhibiting their skills with physical strength to emerge winners. Magical powers, charms and spells were also used to help these experts winning. The Silambam environment became the dead ground in choosing the winners and honoured to become the kings guard.
The definition of Silambam
"Silam Bamboo" was found in the mountain of Kurinji where the Narikuravar named it. "Silam" is known in Tamil as mountain, whereas "Bamboo" as bamboo sticks. The combined two words "Silam bamboo" were later known as Silambam due to the changes of progress and development of the modern world.
Religious rite have to be performed to Goddess Sakthi (Goddess of strength, courage and guidance) before a student seeks permission from the master to learn the art. Lectures on art discipline, correct behaviour, discouragement from consuming liquor and smoking would also be conducted. When a student abides from the rules, permission would be granted and the student will be given a stick (1.68 meters staff) and follow up with their training.
The basic training of Nillaikalakki Silambam which takes seven years to complete consists of ten different stages.
Nilaikalakki Silambam in Penang
The art was brought by Gurukkal Mariapakiam from Madurai, South India in year 1936 to Penang, Malaysia. R. Anbananthan became the student under the guidance of Gurukkal Mariapakiam in the year 1964 to 1986. The Nillaikalakki Silambam Association of Penang was created in year 1974. As the chief instructor of Penang, he encourages youths to learn the art. He also recommands women to take up tha art to keep fit and to learn self protection.
The exercice not only endures your physical fitness but it helps promoting friendship and teaches a person patience, self disciplin, politeness, and encourages love toward his own kind and not drowning in the flow of the modern world. The social problem should be activated by the young generation to up hold the prestige of Malaysia in moral an discipline towards the vision 2020.
©Denis Brunet and the article's author, if specified. Last modified: 6 December 2006
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