The "unbeatable player" of Kushtia, Ruponti fights off a man in a stick fight match.
The fear of opponent inflicting wound could never stop Manjurin Sabrin Chowdhury Ruponti, popularly knowns as Ruponty lathiyal or stick fighter, in battle field. Every time injuries have made her stronger and cautious for next move. With her burning eyes, she has always dominated opponents.
"I participated in lathi-khela for the first time at the age of seven, accompanied by my master Osman Sarder. My aunt Hasna Banu is the first woman lathiyal of Bangladesh. She has always been my inspiration as I heard many courageous stories about her since my childhood," shared Ruponty with The Business Standard.
Ruponty's life exemplifies how one's social surroundings shapes one's perspective. Since everyone around her has always talked, practised, and appreciated lathi-khela, so she aspired to become one and pursued it wholeheartedly.
Her family has always inspired the girls of the family to be a lathiyal and carry their legacy with pride.
"My daughters are like gems. Though I am not a player, I have always inspired them to pursue their dreams and becoming fighters because girls are not anymore lesser than boys. I have always believed that that they would carry our legacy in the best way and the result is visible," says Mushreba Khanam, Ruponty's mother.
Cromonty Chowdhury, Ruponty's sister, considers her sibling as her motivation as she too is learning lathi-khela and considering it her career. In her eyes, Ruponty is the best player. She picked up some of the crucial postures and calisthenics involved in the game from her elder sister when Ruponty plays.
Sirajul Islam Chowdhury, Ruponty's grandfather, is acknowledged as the most expert lathiyal in Kustia. In fact, the family is known as lathiyal family in the locality.
Sirajul Islam took initiative to establish an organisation named Bangladesh Lathiyal Bahini where they teach youngsters our traditional game lathi-khela. Ten thousand students have learnt from here, all around Bangladesh, along with 500 female students.
Ruponty is one of the trainers of this organisation along with the Kochikacha of Kushtia. She also holds the prestigious post of Bangladesh Lathiyal Bahini as their female general secretary.
Every year they organise a festival where lathiyals from remote regions of Bangladesh are invited to participate. This lathiayal family willingly bear the whole cost as their aim is to expand and reintroduce this game to mass with its enduring heritage and culture.
To gain their goal, they are trying heart and soul to be enlisted in Bangladesh Sports Federation. They are building clubs at every district and teaching students traditional games.
Achieving her goals have never been easy. She has at the receiving end of a lot of innuendos from people on social media. Ruponty remains unfazed about them, since most of her critics appear in pseudonym and there is no way she can determine who they are. She has a good network of supporters who cherishes her craft and are committed to helping her through thick and thin.
It is interesting to note that during her entire journey, she never abandoned her academic career.
"Skipping study is not a wise decision. As my family is supportive and I have enough potential then why should not I chase my dream? I want to be an example that if you want something, only then you can achieve it. You and your will power matter the most."
As of now Ruponty has participated in many festivals in and outside of Kushtia. She owns a crown as the "unbeatable player" of Kustia. She is our example how we should treat our girls and what they can turn into in future. Let us hope for more brave Rupontys who would work as change makers.