PM pays tribute to Onake Obavva on her birth anniversary; all you need to know about woman warrior

The post comes in the wake of the Karnataka government’s decision to celebrate Onake Obavva Jayanti annually on 11 November, starting this year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Image courtesy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to social media to wish people on the occasion of Onake Obavva Jayanti. Calling the woman soldier “courageous”, Modi said that the bravery with which she fought for her culture and people cannot be forgotten.

The post comes in the wake of the Karnataka government’s decision to celebrate Onake Obavva Jayanti annually on 11 November, starting this year. A government notification said that the Kannada and culture department had pitched for celebrations marking the birth anniversary of Obavva, who fought single-handedly against the troops of Hyder Ali in the 18th century.

Who was Onake Obavva?

Obavva was the wife of soldier Kahale Mudda Hanuma, the guard of the Chirtadurga fort, which is situated about 200 kilometres from Bengaluru.

She lost her life fighting the troops of Hyder Ali, the father of Tipu Sultan and the ruler of the Mysore kingdom. Ali wanted to conquer the Chitradurga Fort, which was ruled by Madakari Nayaka.
The fort, with its strong walls, proved to be a challenge for Ali’s troops. However, they soon came to know of a secret hole in the stone walls of the fortress, which allowed people to enter one by one. The Mysore ruler decided to capture the Chitradurga Fort by sending his troops one by one through the hole.

At the same time, Obavva heard the soldiers trying to enter the fort when she had gone to fetch water. Since her husband was having lunch, she decided to take matters into her own hands. Armed with a pestle or onake (a wooden club used for crushing paddy grains), Obavva hid silently near the hole, killing each soldier with a blow on his head as emerged from the spot. She then dragged the bodies inside to prevent the incoming troops from knowing her plan.

When her husband came searching for her, he saw the scene before him and rushed to raise the alarm for intruders. The forces inside the fort were quickly mobilised, leading to Ali’s troops being killed and the Chitradurga Fort being saved. However, legends say that Obavva missed the last soldier emerging from the hole, who killed her.

Significance of Obavva:

Obavva is regarded as the epitome of Kannada pride, especially in the Chitradurga region. She is celebrated along with other women warriors of the state such as Keladi Chennama (who fought against the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb), Abbakka Rani (who fought the Portuguese troops), and Kittur Chennamma (who rebelled against the British East India Company in 1824). She has often been depicted in Kannada art, literature, and movies.

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