There are few women in the sport of stand up paddling who inspire on the level of this young woman of India. Tanvi Jagadish: her name is synonymous with a smile.
Standup for Women: Tanvi Jagadish is India’s 1st professional stand up paddle athlete
Tanvi is India’s first professional female water athlete. She’s broken the traditional barriers within her country to establish herself as a professional athlete in both the stand up paddling and surfing world.
“Surfing is not just a sport to me. It is a freedom and a special connection to the ocean.” – Tanvi Jagadish
A History of Passion and Commitment
Growing up in Mangalore, India, Tanvi’s family often spent weekends and even entire summers with her grandparents in nearby Mulki, a small village in south India. Tanvi’s grandfather witnessed the rise of women paddler boarders in nearby countries like the Maldives and Fiji.
He told his granddaughter about it. He also noticed that the nearby Mantra Surf Club, which he frequented for meditation and yoga , offered surfing and paddling lessons. It was he who encouraged Tanvi to try it out.
“I want to play an active role in the development of surfing and stand up paddling in India.”
Tanvi immediately was drawn to stand up paddle boarding. She loved the repetition of paddling and the challenge of navigating varying conditions, especially in the waves. She decided she wanted to compete as a professional.
Breaking down the Walls
Her parents, from India’s largely patriarchal society, were against it. They didn’t like the idea of their daughter competing in a man’s sport and were concerned that she would be ostracized from their community.
People said she would never find a husband if she spent all her time in the ocean with her hair disheveled and her face so tan. Still others, taunted her for wearing t-shirts and shorts when she showed up at the Mantra Surf Club to train.
“Listen to your heart.”
In stepped Tanvi’s grandfather again. He liked the way Tanvi’s eyes sparkled when she was at the beach or talked about paddle boarding and he encouraged her to continue by shutting out the naysayers.
“Listen to your heart,” he told her. “If your heart wants it, go for it. Who cares what the people around you think?”
Today, at the age of 18, Tanvi Jagadish is the only female surfer and stand up paddler to have represented India on both a national and international level. Stand up paddling is still a fledgling sport in India, and one that many girls are wary of pursuing, for fear of social disapproval. Tanvi mastered this sport at Mantra Surfing Club in Mangalore, India, and her efforts have earned her not just several national medals, but a steadily increasing number of accolades on international platforms.
India’s Future with Tanvi at the Helm
Tanvi Jagadish is deeply committed to making stand up paddling popular and more accessible in India, with the limelight on empowering girls and women to follow their dreams.
This talk – shown above – was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.
We believe in you, Tanvi! Keep shining that bright light and keeping the focus on #StandupforWomen!