An adventurist from Pune, Shital Rane-Mahajan, set an absolutely new record by becoming the very first Indian to skydive sporting a radiant “Nav-wari sari” in Thailand on Monday.
Shortly after landing, on speaking to IANS, an elated Rane-Mahajan claimed that due to favourable weather conditions, she was able to skydive twice from an aircraft at heights of around 13,000 above the world-famous tourist resort of Pattaya.
“I wanted to do something different with International Women’s Day coming up next month, so I decided on wearing the Maharashtrian ‘Nav-wari sari’ for my skydives,” Rane-Mahajan said to IANS on a telephonic call from Thai Skydiving Centre.
Reminiscing her experiences, she said that wearing the “Nav-wari sari” itself is a huge challenge since the attire is nine-yards (8.25 metres) long — compared to that of just six yards of the regular Indian sari. Brilliant, right?
“First, to drape the ‘Nav-wari sari’ properly, plus to wear the parachutes on it, the safety gear and communication equipments, helmet, goggles, shoes, etc, add on to and make it all quite a challenge,” Rane-Mahajan explained vividly, as she had apparently stumbled in her first landing but then, escaped unhurt.
She smiled and admitted to the fact that she had to make a lot of “extra preparations and precautions” for draping the “Nav-wari sari”, which included pinning it up tightly and taping it in a lot of places in order to ensure it did not come off her body from the staggering height as she soared down, with strong winds from the Gulf of Thailand lashing all through her descent.
Rane-Mahajan claimed that the country’s signature women’s wear sari can be draped in a lot of different styles all over India, but the Maharashtrian style of “Nav-wari sari” is perhaps, the most difficult to manage for women alike.
“I wanted to prove that Indian women can not only carry the sari graciously in their routine lives, but can also use it for high adventure like skydiving”, the 35-year old extreme sportswoman said, grinning.
Originally, the jump was scheduled on Sunday(February 11). However, it had to be postponed due to sudden heavy rains and stormy in Pattaya, though she managed a jump from 9,000 feet height.
Thus, the Padma Shri laureate and mother of two sons, (nine-year old twins) has set around 18 national skydiving records, plus six international records and completed 704 jumps around the world, taking home several national and international honours.
On December 15, 2006, Rane-Mahajan made the world’s First Accelerated Free Fall Parachute Jump on South Pole in Antarctica, from a Twin Otter aircraft, coming down from a height of 11,600 feet. How amazing is that?
At the age of 23, this is how the first and the youngest woman in the world became the first to achieve the feat at both the Poles.
On April 19, 2008, Rane-Mahajan tied the knot with a Finland-based engineer, Vaibhav Rane, and also created another national record.
The couple got married in a hot-air balloon, completed the ceremony in the presence of a priest performing the ceremonies and parents in tow, around 750 feet up in the air above the Pune city skyline.
Well, Vaibhav is also an avid skydiver with 57 jumps to his credit. They became the first Indian civilian couple to skydive together in November 2011. Incredible, right?
However, she still is keen on pursuing her dream of skydiving over Mt. Everest, with two unsuccessful attempts made in 2010.
As of now, Rane-Mahajan is on a real high – with dives on all the seven continents – in just around a period of 10 years, on Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe, North America and South America.
A year back, she became the first Indian woman who was nominated by Aero Club of India for the prestigious FAI Sabiha Gokcen Medal for completion of skydiving on all seven continents.