India is a country of bravehearts where men and women of the country have participated together to free the country that was under the rule of British for 200 years. While there are many who have been revered for their active participation in liberating India, there are women, especially the queens who came out of their comfort zone and fought against British to save the nation. Here's raising toast to those Queens of India who showed what woman empowerment truly looks like.
Rani Velu Nachiyar, a woman of courage
The Queen of Sivaganga estate in South India between 1780 – 1790 was the first Indian queen to wage war with the East Indian Company in India. Popularly known as Veeramangai among Tamilians. She was born as a princess to Ramanathaouram and was trained in handling different weapons, in martial arts, horse, riding, and archery while growing up. She could speak several languages including English, French, and Urdu. It was after her marriage to the King of Sivagangai, Muthuvaduganathaperiya Udaiyathevar, and when British soldiers and the son of Nawab of Arcot conquered Sivaganga and killed her husband that she fled with her daughter and lived in Virupachi, a village in Tamil Nadu. She built her army and joined hands with Gopala Nayaker and Sultan Hyder Ali to wage war against the British. She regained her kingdom. She is credited as the first person to apply a human bomb in a war.
Abbakka Chowta, woman with power of steel and spice
While most of us know Lakshmibai, the queen of Jhansi as the brave woman who fought the Britishers to regain her kingdom, much before her, queen Abbakka Chowta showed what a woman is capable of. She dies fighting the Portuguese three centuries earlier when Vasco da Gama arrived in Kerala in 1498 for trade. By 1510 Goa became a Portuguese colony and the region being a great source of spice export, the Portuguese eyed taking over the region. Abbakka' having already sensed it, confronted the Portuguese commander Dom Alvaro de Silveira in 1556. Throughout the war, Abbakka's husband didn't help her but she worked tirelessly to bring a boost to the economy. And when in 1568, the Portuguese attacked again, Abbakka was captured and killed despite her guerrilla force of 200 soldiers fighting for her.
Matangini Hazra, a true revolutionary
An Indian revolutionary who participated in the Indian Independence movement was affectionately known as Gandhi Buri, meaning an old lady in Bengali. She was shot dead by the British Police Force while fighting against them. A true Gandhian, she participated in the Midnapore struggle which was also known for the major participation of women. She was arrested by the British forces for breaking the Salt Act in 1932 when she took part in the Non-Cooperation Movement. Once she was released she protested against tax and was again jailed. She was an active member of the Indian National Congress. During one of the congress protests, she was injured in the ensuing baton charge by the police.
Kittur Rani Chennamma, a woman's warrior
Touted as one of the first women to wage war against the Britishers in India, Rani Chennamma may not have succeeded to drive them out, but she encouraged many women to rise against the British empire. Born in Kakati of Belgaum in Karnataka, Chennamma was the queen of Kittur. She was trained in sword fighting and horse riding. She was the mother of a son who died and so did her husband. She was the sole woman to rule the state and save it from the Britishers. When Britishers attacked Solapur and surrounded Kittur from Mysore, Chennamma declared war. For 12 days, the Queen and her soldiers defended the fort but Britishers sneaked in and mixed mud and dung in the gunpowder in the canons. The Queen was defeated and taken prisoner. She was kept in the fort of Bailhongal for life.
Rani Avantibai, a woman with a mission
A strong opponent of the British East India Company during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Avantibai Lodhi was among many queens who decided to take up arms. The queen of Ramgarh, now Dindori in Madhya Pradesh, Avantibai's husband died early and when the revolt of 1857 broke out, she raised and led an army of 4000. She fought several battles with the British, first in the village of Kheri near Mandla where she won the war. Second when the British launched an attack on Ramgarh out of vengeance. She was followed by the British to Devhargarh. Following this battle, she committed suicide when she saw that the battle was almost lost.