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  • Pahel Gholani

Parbati Giri - The Mother Theresa of Western India

We all know about Mother Teresa and her contribution to India, but do we know about the one who followed in her footsteps, a prominent female freedom fighter- Parbati Giri?

She was born on 19 January 1926, to Srimati and Dhananjay Giri of Samlaipadar village (part of present day Bargarh district). She had a very tough upbringing and she dropped out of school when she was in third grade. She then began to travel from village to village to campaign for Congress. Imagine being a young girl who was only eight years old traversing from place to place alone. After gaining the trust of the senior leaders of Congress, she finally officially joined Congress and began to work for them. She then went to Bari Ashram where she learnt many creative skills. Giri also mastered the philosophy of Ahimsa and gained the nickname “Mother Teresa of Western India”- due to her kindness towards the poor.

From 1940, she began to travel to Bargarh, Sambalpur and some other remote villages preaching for Congress. She began to teach the villagers to spin and weave khadi. During her difficult journey, she was arrested quite a few times but due to her being a minor the police had to release her every time. She was later arrested for capturing the Sub Divisional Officers' office and she was sentenced to two years of strict imprisonment. Yet she had unwavering hope. After India became independent she completed her education in 1950. In 1955 she worked for the betterment of Sambalpur village.

She opened many institutes and ashrams for the less fortunate and also worked in the jail improvement department so that others wouldn't suffer like her. This marvelous woman took her last breath on 17 August 1995, but she left behind the legacy of helping others selflessly. Ever since I have come across her story, I have learnt that if we work hard and put our best foot forward we can even achieve the impossible.

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